Politics

The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani

Godwin is Dead

'"It is not just that the left and right consider each other repellent," observes Jeff Sparrow in Trigger Warnings: Political Correctness and the Rise of the Right. "It’s also that they find each other almost incomprehensible." Trigger Warnings and The Death of Truth are notable contributions to what has become a deluge of books and articles trying to explain how we arrived at this point. They offer different diagnoses, but share some basic assumptions. Both propose that the peculiarity of contemporary discourse is, to a significant extent, a product of the culture wars.'

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Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra book cover

The Pleasure of Hating

It is always a good idea, I think, to resist the temptation to regard the politics of one’s own time as especially awful, but recent history does seem to have provided no shortage of prima facie evidence that there is something a bit unhinged and perhaps even pathological about contemporary conflicts. As Pankaj Mishra and Kenan Malik both argue, the volatility and irrationalism of the present are expressions of widespread feelings of alienation, resentment, anger and hatred. This much, at least, seems obvious enough. The difficult question Mishra and Malik set out to answer is why this should be the case.

The Populist Explosion by John B. Judis Book Cover

Bad Hombres

'Why did people vote for Trump? That is the question we should be asking ourselves, and it’s one that’s given extra urgency by the fact that his ascendency is not an isolated case, but the most spectacular instance of a more general phenomenon. In Europe, a veritable basket of deplorables is now angling for the votes of the disaffected. If liberals and leftwingers are serious about wresting momentum from them, they will have to understand their appeal.'

Bolt Worth Fighting For Cover

Crying Freedom

Conservatives and libertarians: a happy marriage or heading for divorce?

Not entirely innocent: Inside Australia’s Anti-Terrorism Laws and Trials

In its initial response to 9/11, the Australian parliament passed the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002, creating the offence of ‘engag[ing] in a terrorist attack, a crime punishable by life imprisonment’. It is easy to forget that, at the time, the deeds most commonly associated with the word ‘terrorism’ were already illegal. Bombing, hostage taking, beheadings and the rest of it: prior to 2002, these were all, of course, crimes. But the Terrorism Act 2002 did more than rebrand old offences with the post 9/11 lexicon.

Strengths and defects: Triumph and Demise & Power Failure

It is widely agreed in the journalistic accounts, the emerging academic studies, and the various politicians’ memoirs that the Rudd and Gillard governments had serious flaws and that their disunity killed any momentum and obscured their achievements. It is also well recognised that the media in general, and the News Limited outlets in particular, played a role in the Labor governments’ demise. You get barely an inkling of that from reading Triumph and Demise.