Published in Overland Issue 207 Winter 2012 · Uncategorized Editorial Jeff Sparrow After the huge vote for the neo-fascist National Front, the philosopher Alain Badiou excoriated the French intelligentsia for their complicity with the new anti-Muslim racism. ‘As always,’ he wrote, ‘the idea – no matter how criminal – precedes power, which in turn shapes the opinion that it needs. The intellectual – no matter how appalling – precedes the minister, who constructs her followers.’ In Australia, the problem presents slightly differently. Political commentary, with its fixation on the adjudication of winners and losers in each news cycle, resembles sports writing more closely than philosophy. Think, for instance, about how speculation about a leadership challenge can rage for weeks with almost no discussion of the policy differences (or lack thereof) between the candidates. The basic consensus between most politicians and most analysts about the fundamentals of economic and political policy means that debating political theory seems, at best, an indulgence, and, at worst, a kind of disloyalty. Where does that leave writers – or, for that matter, readers? Let’s be honest. It’s time – it’s way past time – to force some arguments. With extraordinary transformations taking place around the world, it’s no longer sufficient to remain silent while the political debate focuses exclusively on trivia. In the coming months, as the Australian Labor Party enters into a profound and prolonged crisis, the need for a new public discourse about the Left and its future will only become more urgent. A few days after Badiou published his statement, Greece went to the polls. Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi), whose uniformed members march carrying flags that closely resemble swastikas, won 7 per cent of the vote, sufficient to send twenty-one members to parliament. Its electoral slogan was ‘So we can rid this land of filth’. Yes, Greece is in deep crisis. Still, until recently, the notion that genuine Nazis might be represented in a western European parliament would have been unthinkable. These are serious days, not just for Europe but for the world. Writers of the Left need to get serious, too. Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 25 September 202326 September 2023 · The university Solidarity but only among managers, or the future of the university sector Hannah Forsyth The process continued during Covid. Jobs were being cut due to the threats posed by the pandemic, yet more scholars were being recruited. Nice people, good at their job. But why are we doing this, we kept asking. Management kept telling us we have a funding crisis (which often turned to a surplus in the end), so why are we also on a hiring spree? All along it looked like it could end badly, for all of us. First published in Overland Issue 228 15 September 202326 September 2023 · Friday Features Activating the poetic spirit as friendship John Kinsella I’ve always had the aching feeling that—as a text to be shared among friends and maybe eventually ‘enemies’—the soul-body dialogue poem is a way of arguing towards spiritual certainty in the face of earthly corruption and doubt.