Centre for the Study of Australian Politics - Classics

One important aim of the Centre is to stimulate fresh debate over the ‘big ideas’ in Australian politics. To this end, the Centre will try to republish lost or forgotten classics in the study of Australian politics: classics which continue to speak to us about the underlying nature of politics in Australia. One valuable source is the now-defunct ‘Political Theory Newsletter’ founded at the University of Sydney in the 1970s, and originally circulated through the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA). Below are a number of lost or forgotten classic articles investigating ‘big ideas’ in Australian politics, reproduced with the kind permission of their authors, wherever that permission has been obtainable.

Peter Beilharz - John Anderson and the Syndicalist Moment

'Who was John Anderson? Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney from 1927-1958, Anderson was arguably one of the most influential of local intellectuals in modern Australian history. Yet he wrote little: no single book; he lectured and persuaded at a time when the university on the hill was small and even more exclusive than it is now…Andersonianism these days is identified vaguely as a kind of libertarian current which—it is... Read more

'Prospects for Democracy', Introduction by John Anderson

In the spring of 1943 the Australian broadcasting commision and the Sydney Daily Telegraph collaborated in the production of series of articles, talks and discussions, under the general title: 'After the War then what about a real democracy in Australia?' Since many of the issues raised are of permanent interest and importance W. H. C. Eddy decided to collect the material in book form. This is the introductory essay by John Anderson. Originally... Read more

ABC talk: Majority Rule - is that democracy?

Another piece from Eddy's collection of wartime Australian political discourse. A sneak peak: 'Our tendency is to think that the growth of democracy implies an ever-increasing uniformity. More and more, we take liberty to mean freedom to have what we call ‘a good time,’ equality to mean reducing everyone to a dead level of mediocrity, fraternity to mean doing what our neighbour does. Read the Majority Rule - is that democracy? ABC talk by John... Read more

Author/Editor: John Passmore
Publication Date: December 2011
Quick Link: N/A

Gregory Melleuish - Conceptions of the Sacred in Australian Political Thought

'Conventional wisdom has it that Australia can only be understood in secular terms. ‘Australia society is determinedly secular’ claimed Stephen Knight in a recent essay. Knight argued that European Australia does not possess a mythical landscape or a sense of the sacred. This denial of the sacred as a significant aspect of Australian culture has seeped into our understanding of political ideas and practice in Australia. Hugh Collins’... Read more

William Maley - Political Philosophy of F.A. Bland

'If the discipline of political science in Australia has a forgotten man, that man must surely be Francis Armand Bland. Professor public administration at the University of Sydney from 1935 until his retirement in 1947, Bland was a prolific writer and commentator on public policy and affairs, and in his later years an energetic critic of the increasing scope of state activity…'. Originally published 1993Read more

Peter Beilharz - Australian Radical Scholarship in the Wake of Marxism

'What is the influence in Australia of Marxism today? At first sight the question would seem oxymoronic, likely to evoke that sardonic hilarity characteristic of East European jokes. ‘Marxism’ and ‘Australia’ seem to be mutually exclusive, opposed terms. And yet Marxism, and radical thinking, have long histories in the antipodes. In order to contextualize any survey of Australian Radical Scholarship in the wake of Marxism we need to address at... Read more

Robert Jackson - Foreign Models and Aussie Rules: Executive-Legislative relations in Australia

'...In the last twenty years Australian’s have compiled an extraordinary amount of factual information about the institutions and processes of the commonwealth and the states, including elections and parties. Of course, this explosion of new information is partially due to the fact that Australian’s have been rethinking the design of their institutions and processes as the country approaches its centennial. But, alas, Australian’s continue to... Read more

Gregory Melleuish - Australia and the Servile State

In recent years there has been an enormous amount of work done on Australian literature. Unfortunately this has not been matched by an interest in others areas of Australian intellectual life, including political thought. This raises the suspicion that perhaps there has been no political thought of any value written by Australians. This is manifestly untrue. Last year a conference was held to examine the work of V. Gordon Childe at which... Read more

Julie Tonkin and Don Fletcher - Kate Grenville: giving voice to women

In this essay we indicate some of the ways in which Kate Grenville’s fiction is designed to suggest how women are oppressed by language and violence and how they might escape complicity in that oppression. Grenville’s work is not feminist theory. Indeed, she has said that she writes to explore interesting hypotheses ‘in a shamelessly subjective way — the way of intuition and empathy’, rather than on the basis of theoretical assumptions and she... Read more

Conal Condren - Political Theory

The principal aim of the Centre for the Study of Australia Politics is the investigation of political theory and science from a uniquely Australian perspective. This survey of political scholarship from Conal Condren that appeared in 'Surveys of Australian Politics' (Don Aitkin eds. Goerge Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1985)provides a wonderful foundation for this pursuit. "Political theory is alive and, well, living in Australia—a safe beginning for... Read more

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