Overland goes to press with the federal election some weeks away. Yet, while the parliamentary winner remains uncertain, it’s already perfectly apparent who will lose. The poll marks a renewed demonisation of asylum seekers, with the major parties competing to heap cruelties upon the heads of those with the temerity to seek refuge in Australia. The entirety of the political establishment remains committed to a neoliberalism that produces a noxious mixture of consumerism and repression – as George Steiner put it: ‘The knout on the one hand; the cheeseburger on the other.’

That’s why Overland matters.

In the nearly six decades since its foundation, Overland has been regularly accused of intemperance, of insufficient respect for the etiquette of literary culture.

But as the Wobbly T-Bone Slim once argued, ‘Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.’

A little journal cannot, in and of itself, change the culture. But it can help progressive writers and readers to find each other. It can provide a space in which ideas can be exchanged and tested, where arguments can be had and strategies debated. And it can boost the morale of those who do not think the world was made for a small minority to dance on the faces of everyone else.

This is not a time for writers to turn inward, however tempting that might seem. On the contrary, there’s never been more need for engagement with issues and controversies. That’s the spirit motivating this edition – and the Overland project as a whole.

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

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