Trouble Down the Track. "The Prince’s New Clothes: Why Do Australians Dislike Their Politicians?", by David Burchell and Andrew Leigh (eds) and "When the Boat Comes In: Transforming Australia in the Age of Globalisation", by Boris Frankel and "Left Directions: Is There a Third Way?", by Paul Nursey-Bray and Carol Lee Bacchi (eds) and "Dissent Events: Protest, the Media and the Political Gimmick in Australia", by Sean Scalmer. [review]
Orchard, Lionel Robert
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In an original and creative study, Sean Scalmer’s "Dissent Events" presents a theorised history of protest movements in modern Australia from the student and Vietnam Moratorium movements of the 1960s, to Aboriginal, women’s and gay activism of the 1970s, to Hanson populism, the anti-Hanson response and the recent anti-globalisation S11 protests. For Scalmer, the history of modern political protest is shaped by the continual search for new ways of attracting public attention, or by what he calls the ‘political gimmick’. The scepticism and sapping of confidence in government, politicians and the public realm more generally is much documented and analysed in the modern democracies. David Burchell and Andrew Leigh’s collection addresses these issues in the Australian setting. Andrew Leigh is more concerned about the growing level of distrust in politics. The most significant reasons for this, according to Leigh, are falling levels of interpersonal trust and social capital, the growing importance of postmaterialist values in modern societies, reflecting less respect for hierarchical institutions (like government and public organisations), and the rise of a more negative, manipulative, journalist-centred media. At a more theoretical level, David Burchell and Jeffrey Minson defend a ‘realist’ view of politics. Against ideas of sovereign government and the pursuit of happiness through politics, and in a complex engagement with Max Weber’s and Bernard Crick’s arguments about politics as a vocation, Burchell invites us to adopt a stance of ‘perpetual disillusionment’ with politics. Paul Nursey-Bray and Carol Lee Bacchi’s collection critically examines Third Way ideas from a range of leftist viewpoints. Boris Frankel’s "When the Boat Comes In" defends a left political and policy alternative to both neo-liberalism and the Third Way.