In the October issue of The Monthly I wrote “Kelly Country”, a 2,200 word Comment on Paul Kelly’s Triumph and Demise. The Comment began by praising Kelly’s The End of Certainty as perhaps the most influential book about Australian politics written in the past fifty years. It continued by arguing that while his next book The March of Patriots had the same virtues, its central thesis about the essential continuity between the governments of Paul Keating and John Howard was rather implausible and had left little impact on the national imagination. (In a previous article in The Monthly I had examined this question at some length.) Although I argued that while Triumph and Demise had some of the virtues of the earlier books – “narrative drive, familiarity with detail, the insider’s privileged access to the main players” – with it something had gone radically wrong.
Here I made three main points. Firstly, Kelly combined the shrewd assessment of a contemporary historian with the portentousness of the opinion columnist. On the one hand, as an example, his account of Rudd’s political failure regarding the politics of climate change was compelling. On the other, Kelly’s own running commentary on the issue of climate change was both arrogant and foolish, at odds with the views of the overwhelming number of climate scientists, virtually every national scientific academy and also the mainstream international bodies like the International Energy Agency and the World Bank. Secondly, in his argument about Labor’s betrayal of the nation, Kelly had underestimated the Rudd government’s achievement in preventing the Australian economy falling into recession and, in his ungenerous account of the legislative accomplishments of the Gillard government – on climate, education and disability insurance – had shrunk the idea of reform until it concerned nothing but the economy, thereby forgetting that postwar Australia had experienced not one but two great reforming governments – Hawke-Keating but also Whitlam. Thirdly, Kelly was deeply disingenuous in failing to discuss the role that the Murdoch press had played in undermining both the Rudd government in its final six months and the Gillard “minority government” following the 2010 election. I showed this in what was a short Comment with examples chosen from several lines of evidence – an account of the anti-minority government Carmel meeting of News Corp journalists in 2010 with Murdoch presiding; The Australian’s six week propaganda campaign on behalf of the mining corporations with regard to Rudd’s mining tax; the frequently vicious and relentless News Corp assault on “Ju-Liar” Gillard’s carbon tax; Kim Williams’s dismissal triggered by launching Chris Bowen’s book; Rupert Murdoch’s anti-Labor tweets.
I called Kelly the Murdoch Empire’s most authoritative Australian voice. My chief point was that there was a pressing need to contest the News Corp’s grid-like interpretation of this country’s recent political history, which The Australian presented every day.
A few days after The Monthly article appeared the attack on this short Comment began.
October 7: Nick Cater, opinion column, “Reform’s a Dirty Word for Today’s Labor”
A decade ago I told Terry Lane on ABC radio that as I was not a professionally trained economist I regretted having allowed myself to be drawn into a debate about technical economic issues following the publication of a book I co-edited twenty-two years ago, in which I wrote about the dangers of neo-liberalism, or what the Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman now call market fundamentalism. This quote provided Cater with his first argument. “Manne may not know much about economics, but he reckons he knows his climate science.” This is precisely the opposite of the case I have made on dozens of occasions, including in my Quarterly Essay, “Bad News” and in the October Comment in The Monthly – namely that it is preposterous and reckless for those without training and expertise in the field of climate science to think they know better than the 97% of climate scientists who have concluded that human activities– especially the burning of fossil fuels– have caused global warming. Cater is one of the most primitive denialists. Shortly before the most recent Synthesis Report of the IPCC, which issued its starkest warning ever and called for the entire phasing out of coal by 2100, despite his complete absence of expertise in the field of climate science Cater recommended coal mining into the indefinite future and the removal of “the ugly word sustainability…from the lexicon”. Cater ended this part of his argument with the kind of ham-fisted defamatory abuse encouraged in Chris Mitchell’s Australian. “Readers familiar with Manne’s voodoo logic will know by now where the professor is heading: to the grassy knoll and the book depository, where shadowy figures lurk with loaded guns.”
Cater also somehow managed to suggest that because I had argued that the Murdoch press was “a principal cause” of Labor’s problems under Rudd and Gillard we were back in 1975 where Gough Whitlam’s downfall was “a fiendish Murdoch plot”. There were several problems here. Cater’s suggestion that I am somehow back in 1975 is ludicrous. I have never associated the downfall of the Whitlam government with Rupert Murdoch. Indeed in my 15,000 word chapter on the Whitlam government, “The Whitlam Revolution” in The Australian Century, not once was Rupert Murdoch mentioned. Cater characteristically cannot understand the fundamental change in Murdoch’s power position since 1975. When the Whitlam government fell, Murdoch was one press player among many. During the period of Rudd and Gillard he owned – and used ruthlessly for his conservative political purposes, at a loss of many tens of millions of News Corp dollars – two thirds of the metropolitan press in Australia. Cater ignored altogether the evidence presented in my Comment, like the 82% of News Corp articles that had attacked Gillard’s climate policies ruthlessly. And he failed to see the difference between arguing that News Corp’s hostility was “a principal cause” and “the principal cause” of Labor’s problems – not the main cause but one among several. I have never suggested and would never suggest that the Murdoch press was the main cause of the problems Labor faced between 2010 and 2013, having been a critic of both the Rudd and Gillard governments (see below).
October 8, Cut & Paste: So who’s in denial now about what the science is saying about global warming?
Cut & Paste, or Spleen & Schadenfreude as I call it, began with a long quote from my Monthly article concerning Paul Kelly’s “running commentary on climate change”. It continued with the following passage:
“NASA Monday: The cold waters of Earth’s deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years…”
I responded in a blog on October 9, which is included here so the record is complete. What was being suggested is that in its study of the temperature of the deep ocean, NASA has come to the view that global warming is not happening. This is simply a lie. While a new NASA study did indeed find no evidence of warming in the deep ocean since 2005, the Cut & Paste quote omits a crucial part of the NASA media release which reads: “Coauthor Felix Landerer of JPL noted that during the same period warming in the top half of the ocean continued unabated, an unequivocal sign that our planet is heating up.”
The cherry-picked misquote from NASA is followed by two quotations from an article I wrote for The Monthly on climate change in February 2006 concerning recent heat and heatwaves, including the ferocious European summer of 2003, the intensity of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and the unusual pattern of El Ninos in the South Pacific. Cut & Paste follows with a long quote from the September 2013 IPCC Report concerning low confidence in the increased occurrence of cyclones. A new report from 2013 is used as a refutation of something written in 2006. More seriously, the cherry-picked paragraph is not a reliable indicator of the IPCC’s view about the likely increase in the activity of cyclones or other extreme weather events in the future, as the following paragraph from the recent synthesis report makes clear: “Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some eco-systems and many human systems to current climate variability (very high confidence).”
The sub-heading of the Cut & Paste of October 8 read:
“Here at the sheltered workshop we’re enjoying reading the reports from NASA and the IPCC”.
The plain suggestion of the heading and the sub-heading is that I am “in denial” about what the science is now saying about global warming and that both NASA and the IPCC have joined the ranks of the climate change sceptics. This is another, even more outrageous lie.
In the age of the internet anyone can discover the current position of NASA and the IPCC on global warming in a matter of moments. Here are some statements of the current position of the IPCC, all taken from the Summary for Policymakers of the first volume of the IPCC’s Fifth Report published earlier this year:
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentration of greenhouse gases have increased.”
“Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any previous decade since 1850…”
“Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0-700 m.) warmed from 1971 to 2010…and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.”
“Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence).”
And here is the current position of NASA. All of the following quotes come from its website:
“Certain facts about Earth’s climate are not in dispute:
“Sea Level Rise – Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
“Global Temperature Rise – All three major global temperature reconstructions show that the Earth has warmed since 1880. Most of the warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981…
“Warming Oceans – The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
“Consensus – Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”
It is one thing for The Australian to publish the opinions of dozens of people without scientific knowledge or capacity, like the former head of the stock exchange, Maurice Newman, who think they have a firmer grasp on the question of global warming than ninety-seven per cent of climate scientists. This is merely risible. It is another thing for The Australian to try to lead its readers to believe that the climate scientists represented in the reports of the IPCC or at NASA are now climate sceptics.
October 9, Cut & Paste: Cut & Paste salutes the great man’s forgetting of wisdom and return to economics: How apt. The Monthly’s humble commentator denounces arrogance and foolishness.
This entire Cut & Paste was devoted to ad hominem abuse of me. It began with the Terry Lane quote that Nick Cater had used two days earlier. This quote has been used against me on dozens of occasions, even making an appearance on my brief Wikipedia entry on one occasion. It was followed with a quotation from “the great economist Manne” written in 2010 concerning the two ideal types of contemporary capitalist society – the neo-liberal variant, the US and UK, and the social-democratic variant, north-western Europe, which I regarded as more egalitarian and thus preferable. My views were supposedly refuted by a quote from the Wall Street Journal suggesting that investors think the US is on a “relatively healthy growth path” while worried that “Europe’s biggest economies appear to be sliding into recession.” The intellectual muddle here is almost exquisite. The comparison of two types of contemporary capitalism is confused with technical economics. By north-west Europe I meant primarily the Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The Wall Street Journal article refers to Europe’s largest economies, presumably Germany, France, maybe Italy. My quote was concerned with patterns over decades. The Wall Street Journal article refers to contemporary predictions of investors. Worst of all, as always the Kelly gang ignore entirely the profound inequality of US and UK society and also the role that neo-liberalism or market fundamentalism played in the creation of the global financial crisis, from which neither the United States nor Europe has yet properly recovered. It is amusing to note that the country that best survived the GFC is the one whose governments Paul Kelly and the Kelly gang regard as betrayers of the nation.
Cut & Paste continues with my retort to Henry Ergas’s crass idea that somehow “facts” speak for themselves: “What count as facts and what role they play in human understanding is a lot more complicated than you seem to understand”. It moves on to dismiss, without argument, the idea that News Corp played a role in Labor’s difficulties. And it ends obscurely with what the crew at Cut & Paste claim is their favourite quote of mine, namely that Rudd was denigrated by The Australian on the basis of guilt by association: “Rudd was a critic of neo-liberalism. So were Noam Chomsky and Hugo Chavez. What more needed to be said.”
October 15, Editorial: “Economics works for the poor, society and Labor.”
Presumably for those readers who had been abroad during the earlier week the editorial brought them up to speed:
“Robert Manne – whose policy vanity should have been punctured by the economic irrationality of the execrable Shutdown – joins this miserable hit squad in a desperate attempt to defend Labor’s recent period in office and assail Paul Kelly’s shrewd analysis of the government’s patent failures in Triumph and Demise.”
October 18: Henry Ergas, opinion column, “Revisionist ALP remains mired in tired old ideas”.
The idea of using the phrase “tired old ideas” in the headline of an article recycling for the thousandth time The Australian’s standard case about Labor is droll. It is also rare to find an article where every single claim made about its nemesis is either misleading or plainly false. But Ergas manages to achieve it. Here is his discussion in full.
“Robert Manne had hailed Rudd’s rise to the Prime ministership in terms normally reserved for the arrival of the Messiah…”
Pure hyperbole. Maybe Ergas is “channelling” Greg Sheridan. I have never thought of any politician as a Messiah, although like millions I supported Rudd and was delighted that the nation had voted out the Howard government.
“…now he points to News’ ‘undue influence over daily politics’ as a principal cause of Labor’s prolonged crisis’.”
The context makes it clear that like Cater, Ergas cannot distinguish between “a principal cause” and “the principal cause” (see above).
“The solution to that crisis, he tells us, is to re-discover the Whitlam era, not as a “synonym for fiscal recklessness” but as a “great reforming government.”
Not true. I say not a word about what Labor now needs to do. Both quotes are torn from their context.
“Channelling Manning Clark’s description of ‘Whitlam as a teacher who had the chance to lead us out of darkness into light’ ”…
This is complete fiction. I am a very strong critic of Manning Clark as an historian although I have always regarded Chris Mitchell’s view that he was “the spy of the century” as comical. (“On the Manning Clark Affair” in Left, Right, Left.) In my main work on the Whitlam government I have expressed both admiration and criticism. (“The Whitlam Revolution” in The Australian Century.)
“…Manne suggests it is Whitlamite policies, rather than the productivity-oriented reforms of the Hawke and Keating years that Labor should aspire to.”
Can Professor Ergas not read? Here is the passage from my Monthly Comment: “Kelly seems to have forgotten what he once knew: that since World War Two Australia has had not one but two ‘great reforming governments’ – first that of Gough Whitlam and then that of Hawke and Keating.”
“Manne’s grasp of how readily these policies could be funded is epitomised by his reference to the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd period’s deficits as ‘relatively modest’.
It is not only I who thinks this. It is the view of the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, and the former Reserve Bank Governor, Bernie Fraser, and dozens of Australian economists.
October 21, Nick Cater, opinion column, “Time For Cooler Heads to Prevail”
In his column on climate change Cater wrote:
“Political scientist Robert Manne said the likes of [Bob] Carter, award-winning geologist Ian Plimer and former head of the National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology, William Kininmonth, ‘have to be resisted and indeed denounced’ along with the ‘anti-political correctness and anti-collectivist ideologues, the right wing media and the fossil fuel corporations’ ”.
The reference here is to a blog I wrote for The Monthly on December 11 2011, “How Can Climate Change Denialism Be Explained?” Here is the relevant passage:
“As Clive Hamilton has pointed out, there is a certain kind of individual who is offended by the conclusions of the climate scientists. For such people – frequently ageing white males of science, engineering and technology backgrounds – the conclusions of the climate scientists are experienced as a shock, as a challenge, but most deeply of all as an affront to their deepest and most cherished basic faith: the capacity and indeed the right of ‘’mankind” to subdue the Earth and all its fruits and to establish a “mastery” over Nature… Now they were faced by scientists who had arrived at the conclusion that…the decision to provide the energy for industrialisation by burning fossil fuels was possibly the most consequential, although perfectly innocent, misstep human beings had ever taken. Within the mindset of the engineers and geologists, such a thought is not merely mistaken. It is intolerable and deeply offensive. Those preaching this doctrine have to be resisted and indeed denounced. For such people – in Australia one thinks of Ian Plimer, Bob Carter and William Kininmonth – the struggle against the climate scientists is both urgent and existential… In the fight against the climate scientists they have proved to be important allies of the anti-political correctness and anti-collectivist ideologues, the right-wing media and the fossil fuel corporations.”
In this comment, as readers can see, Cater has misrepresented me completely, claiming that certain words I used to characterise the attitude of the ageing scientists, engineers and technologists towards the climate scientists constitute my own attitude to Carter, Plimer, Kininmonth and other sources of denialism. There were only two conclusions that could be drawn. Either Cater could not follow a simple argument or he had decided to mislead the readers of The Australian.
The idea that I had called for the wholesale denunciation of both individuals and collectivities took its place within a day in the denialist echo chamber – The Australian’s website; the prominent US website WhatsUpWithThat; Cater’s blog, The Lucky Culture; Andrew Bolt’s blog at the Herald Sun (which is reproduced at the Daily Telegraph and the Courier Mail); Veooz.com; Australian-politics.blogspot.com; anti-green.blogspot.com. Naturally, I wrote a letter to the editor to The Australian, as I had with Cater’s earlier effort and Ergas’s. At first it was not published. After I wrote to Chris Mitchell making it clear that I might need to take some further action a letter was published, but in a severely truncated form. Even though it was by now public that Cater had misrepresented me, so far as I am aware there has been no correction on The Australian’s website or Nick Cater’s blog where his column appears, or anywhere else.
November 1, Peter Craven, Inquirer article: “Fair and Balanced Account of the Rudd-Gillard Fiasco Draws an Over-The-Top Critical Response: Robert Manne is on shaky ground in venting his spleen against Paul Kelly”.
I do not pretend to know why Chris Mitchell decided to give the literary journalist Peter Craven 3,900 words on the front page of The Inquirer in The Weekend Australian to write about the supposed spleen I had revealed in my supposedly “over the top” critique of Triumph and Demise and in praise of Paul Kelly’s “magisterial” account of the Rudd and Gillard years. I do know however that apart from the abuse – “inflamed outrage”, “a bit fantastical”, “ludicrous misrepresentation”, “the kind of worldly perspective that is remote from Manne”; “would that Manne had such levelness of gaze and compassion”; “like a mirror that is capturing nothing but the rage of the viewer’s face” etc, etc – Craven’s article had precious little to do with the analysis I offered in “Kelly Country”.
Concerning the implicit denialism of Kelly and The Australian and their advocacy of climate change inaction, Craven had not one relevant word to say. Was he evading an issue that was awkward for him personally or should we conclude that he is unconcerned about climate change denialism, a movement that is helping destroy the Earth?
Concerning Kelly’s separation of the idea of reform from social justice, Craven had scarcely anything to say and what little he did have to say was a clear misrepresentation of the facts. Craven tells us that “[Kelly] does nothing to diminish Gillard’s achievement with the National Disability Insurance Scheme”. But on disability insurance, as on many other topics, Kelly is often wildly inconsistent, a point shown by James Walter in the November issue of Australian Book Review. However at one point in Triumph and Demise Kelly writes: “Labor had piled vast new spending programs (notably disability and Gonski) on a tax base raising significantly less revenue as a portion of GDP than before”. And at another: “Gillard engaged in a bout of Whitlamism with schools and disability spending agendas.” At no point does Kelly advocate tax increases to pay for either disability insurance or the Gonski reforms. Craven’s point is thus simply untrue.
Craven had more to say about the Murdoch press. He dealt in considerable detail with entirely irrelevant stories about Rudd’s peculiar behaviour with Chris Mitchell and Peter Blunden and with Kim Williams’ criticism of the Gillard media inquiry – matters that in my Comment I did not discuss. Although he had 3,900 words at his disposal (almost twice the length of my Comment) he did not examine even one of the lines of evidence I presented. I have written at considerable length on The Australian’s coverage of the Rudd government (in “Bad News”) and on the influence of News Corp on Australian politics (in The Monthly). These earlier analyses were altogether ignored by Craven. It seems to me not unreasonable for someone writing an unusually long newspaper article to do at least a little research.
Craven argued that my view of Murdoch as an evil force in our culture and in the culture of both the United States and the United Kingdom was “a bit fantastical”. It is unhappily not fantastical at all. Murdoch’s most original media creation, Fox News, is a force corrupting the American body politic. His newspapers worldwide played a fundamental part in beating the drum of war prior to the invasion of Iraq, for which he has not expressed one word of remorse for the half million human beings who lost their lives as a result. His newspapers and Fox News are presently among the most important assets of the climate denialist camp. It was however in a riveting interview with Melvin Bragg in 1994 shortly before his death that the great television writer, Dennis Potter, went to the heart of the matter. Potter called his pancreatic cancer, “Rupert”. In his view Murdoch had profoundly polluted the newspapers and the political culture of the Anglosphere wherever his influence was to be found. Twenty years later the situation is far worse. It is profoundly dismaying that a literary critic like Craven, supposedly sensitive to culture, cannot grasp what was obvious to Potter. But it is more than that. Craven’s blindness is itself a measure of the damage Murdoch has done.
The underlying theme of Craven’s article is that I have always been and remain a staunch defender of both the Rudd and Gillard governments. Sometimes this is made explicit. “Manne”, he writes, “seems full of admiration for both these figures” – Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. In fact my admiration was far indeed from absolute, as even my short Comment made clear when I wrote that Kelly frequently confuses the problem of Labor with the problem of Rudd. This ought to be no secret. A few days before Rudd was ousted I wrote a fiercely critical article about Rudd’s performance in the first five months of 2010 for The Monthly called “Is Rudd Finished?”. The article was re-printed in The Australian. And after 2010 I wrote several often controversial newspaper articles and blogs which suggested that as Julia Gillard had failed to impress as a political leader and because of her weakness in the polls, Labor had no alternative but to reinstate Rudd as Prime Minister, despite his obvious imperfections. I do not think it should be too difficult to understand that someone who was very critical of aspects of both Rudd and Gillard and their governments can also object to the kind of right wing critique mounted by Paul Kelly and The Australian, with its anti-social justice rhetoric about the end of the age of entitlement, its unhinged hostility to the Greens and the idea of their informal alliance with Labor, its uncritical support for the US alliance, and its irrational and dismaying climate change denialism – something that is far too influential because of the grotesque power of News Corp and which, in the interests of our democracy, needs to be fiercely contested.
One final point on Craven. In his great eulogy for Gough Whitlam delivered in the Sydney Town Hall shortly after Paul Kelly’s Triumph and Demise was published, Noel Pearson unintentionally reminded the nation of the things we have lost during the era of creeping conservatism since the arrival of the age of John Howard and Rupert Murdoch two decades ago. Paul Kelly wrote his finest book, The End of Certainty, when he associated himself with the humane and cosmopolitan reforming governments of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. His achievement faltered in The March of Patriots when he tried to reconcile the outward looking Keating vision with the miserable cultural conservatism of John Howard. With Triumph and Demise, an expression of the Murdoch house philosophy of The Australian under the editorship of Chris Mitchell, his earlier achievement as a generous political thinker has been betrayed. In the mid-1990s when I wrote for The Australian under Paul Kelly, I asked him why he had been removed by Murdoch as editor-in-chief. He told me that they wanted their newspaper back. They not only got their paper back. In the process they captured Kelly, as well as very many ageing former leftists, working in one way or another for The Australian, shuffling conventionally and conveniently to the right, like Peter Craven. As he might say, in his characteristic timbre, alas!
November 1, 8.44am: Email from Robert Manne to Chris Mitchell and Clive Mathieson, editor-in-chief and editor of The Australian.
Dear Chris and/or Clive,
Given that a 2,000 word article in The Monthly on Paul Kelly’s Triumph and Demise has occasioned adverse comment in The Australian in two Nick Cater columns (one based on a falsified quote); a Henry Ergas Saturday column (where he misrepresented what I had said); two snide Cut & Pastes on successive days and now a lengthy critique from Peter Craven, I am formally requesting a right of reply of 1,000 words, hopefully in next Saturday’s Weekend Australian.
Looking forward to your response,
November 1, 9.46am: Email from Chris Mitchell to Robert Manne.
“I can do a letter to the editor next Saturday. Chris”
“Fairness”, Janet Albrechtsen declared recently in a letter to The Saturday Paper, “is the measure of a decent [newspaper]”. One letter to the editor in response to a 3,900 word article – the culmination of about 10,000 words of abuse – for the author of a 2,200 word Comment on Paul Kelly’s book is what now counts as fairness at The Australian.
There are two reasons why I have bothered to write this blog.
First, the responses of The Australian to my Monthly Comment are a revealing indication of the journalistic and intellectual standards that now prevail in the editorial sections of The Australian.
Second, the responses reveal the way the present editor-in-chief at The Australian tries to intimidate, as a lesson for others, anyone who criticises him or his newspaper. What has happened to me has happened recently to Bob Brown, Meg Simons, Simon Overland, Julian Disney, Kim Williams, Wendy Bacon, Chris Graham, Paul Barry and many others.
I remain surprised that those who work for The Australian encourage or acquiesce in behaviour of this kind.
Robert Manne is emeritus professor of politics and vice-chancellor’s fellow at La Trobe University. His most recent books are The Mind of the Islamic State and On Borrowed Time.
In the October issue of The Monthly I wrote “Kelly Country”, a 2,200 word Comment on Paul Kelly’s Triumph and Demise. The Comment began by praising Kelly’s The End of Certainty as perhaps the most influential book about Australian politics written in the past fifty years. It continued by arguing that while his next book The March of Patriots had the same virtues, its central thesis about the essential continuity between the governments of Paul Keating and John Howard was rather implausible and had left little impact on the national imagination. (In a previous article in The Monthly I had examined this question at some...
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