Breaking the consensus: where to for the left

Type
Polemic
Category
Politics
The future

Since Bob Hawke and Paul Keating implemented the Australian version of neoliberalism in the 1980s and 90s, there has been a broad consensus between the Labor and Liberal parties on the basic fundamentals of the Australian economy. This consensus has been a major root of two crises in Australia – one political, one economic.

33962498096_bf66067428_k
Janelle Monae clip
Type
Polemic
Category
Queer politics
Sexuality

Bi choice

My parents named their only child after one of Shakespeare’s most famous cross-dressers. One might have imagined, therefore, that they’d have been less taken aback to learn of my gradual slide into ambiguous Kinsey Scale territory. As it was, they were deeply surprised. Most people are.

Brilliance
Type
Polemic
Category
sexual harassment
The academy

Against brilliance

In a competitive, capitalist culture, the descriptor ‘brilliant’ tends to refer to somebody who makes connections others have not, or perhaps to have made them faster, or first. It is to burn the brightest, to out-do, to dazzle to the point of disbelief. Brilliance, in this sense, is the fake currency of the elite humanities academy – the fissile defence that protects against wrongdoing; the light that shines so brightly it cannot touch, nor recognise, shadow.

huh
Type
Article
Category
Literary ghosts
Refugees

Patrick Bateman on Nauru? The bizarre prison travelogue of Roman Quaedvlieg

The former Commissioner of Australia Border Force, Roman Quaedvlieg, took time out of pouring petrol on the au pair scandal last week to pen his reflections on a far bigger scandal that is somehow not really a scandal at all. Initially self-published, then re-posted on Meanjin, Quaedvlieg wrote about a trip he took to Nauru in the second half of 2015.

Marielle Franco mural
Type
Article
Category
Activism
Violence

Her name was Marielle Franco

I first heard about Marielle Franco in April this year. While visiting Rio de Janeiro in Brazil as a tourist with my family, I found myself in a bar late one night with an expat who had lived in the country for more than thirty years.

Fear crop
Type
Review
Category
Liberalism
Politics

Fear but mostly loathing in Washington DC

Even as a workplace drama, Fear is a disappointment. We are promised in the prologue the story of the ‘nervous breakdown’ of the executive branch of the US government: a story of insubordination and sabotage, of documents removed from the president’s desk and orders to the military flatly disobeyed.

Mills crop
Type
Polemic
Category
Climate change
Reading

Climate change was so last year: writers’ festivals and the great derangement

Nevertheless – contrary to Overington’s sneering claim that at literary festivals it’s ‘panel after panel on climate change’ – I was initially struck by the dearth of discussion on the subject at this year’s Adelaide Writers’ Week, despite its theme of ‘change’ and the presence of authors, such as Clive Hamilton, who have written extensively on the subject. After all, if writers’ festivals are to be platforms for, in the words of a recent Sydney Writers’ Festival statement, ‘urgent, necessary and sometimes difficult’ conversations, then clearly climate change must be the litmus test.

lel
Type
Article
Category
History
Queer politics

Queering the past: the learned absence of homosexuality in Australian history

Why has it never been brought to my attention, throughout my primary, secondary and tertiary education, that Australia has a vast queer history? Only independent research has led me to discover the extent of Australia’s homosexual colonial past. The teachers and lecturers of Australian history, whom I have been a student of, have never touched upon the country’s queer histories.

pico
Type
Article
Category
Long read
The city

The litany of Sydney streets

Streets give an illusion of permanence; their concrete slabs and rows of buildings fixed addresses with immutable histories. In fact, streets change names, open or close off, and disappear altogether. Sydney is unique in that it grows without plan or direction. There is a difficulty in reading old maps of Sydney, because it has gone through more changes than any other city in Australia. Names disappear when ideas transform.

failure
Type
Article
Category
Immigration
Nationalism

Failure to host

I was stopped by immigration officials and asked questions like: why had I travelled to India in the past? Why had I stayed so long on my previous trip? What were the full names and professions of the friends I’d be staying with? What was my job? How many books had I written? After about an hour of this, and despite having a valid visa and an onward ticket to Bangladesh, I was refused entry to India and ordered to book the first flight back to my port of origin.

oi!
Type
Article
Category
Culture
Queer politics

Bert and Ernie

Bert and Ernie occupy such a mighty place in the popular imagination that it’s hard for us to remember that they began as a reference to something else. But in the Jim Henson universe, sly, humourous, or worthy commentaries on public figures and social issues were always part of the process. The recent public debate about them seems to have handily sidestepped the fact that the characters are, among other things, an obvious allusion to The Odd Couple, originally a 1965 Broadway play by the late Neil Simon.