THIS MORNING, A MATCHED pair of posts about loneliness, by Amba Azaad in The New Inquiry and Chris Dillow.


Because straight white men refuse to recognize their own unpalatability, they come up with solutions to loneliness that appropriate the rhetoric of justice- and freedom-based ideologies without actually engaging in any rigorous structural analyses of their culpability in oppression. They don’t want revolutionary change but merely a polite tolerance that would make them more bearable. And this selfishness renders them incompetent to address the structures of loneliness as a social ill.


And this has been my experience too. My grammar school was on the other side of town and it played rugby, the function of which was not so much to produce rugby players as to signal to people like me that we didn’t belong. And then I went to Oxford which was chocka with charmless dullards from “nice” middle-class backgrounds*. All along there were cues that I didn’t fit in.
Of course, the ruling class rarely gave overt outright messages of class hatred, just as Ms Hirsch rarely encountered crude racism. It likes to think of itself as open and tolerant. But this is self-regarding bullshit which rests upon a denial of the real lived experience of the tens of thousands of black, mixed-race or working-class people: Michael Henderson’s “review” in the Times is a wonderful example of this.


There are more important issues

ONE OF THE RHETORICAL tricks I’ve noticed becoming increasingly common (though I may just have been sensitized to it) is opposition to some proposal, based on the claim that “there are more important issues to discuss”.

John Quiggin on the ‘why won’t the x talk about y’ phenomenon.


Scab is always taunt

BETTER PEOPLE THAN YOU or I have fought against shifting displacement. The Green Bans are the well-known heroic story of the beginning of built-environment heritage protection and the last hurrah of working class militancy in Australia. The Builders Labourers Federation (BLF), a union made up of low-skilled demolition and construction workers, made common cause with the interests of preservationists and aesthetes of cultural significance. From the unlikely teaming-up of singletted Communists and connoisseurs of Georgian buildings, NSW retains its Rocks, its Kelly’s Bush, its significant buildings and its Heritage Act 1977.



MODERN DRINKERS RECOGNISE RUM as a spirit distilled from sugarcane (more often specifically, molasses). These days, unlike those of Australia’s original penal settlement, you can’t drink it in jail. Eddie Obeid, formerly New South Wales Minister, formerly member of the Legislative Council, formerly OAM, will have none for a period of at least three years, and up to five. That’s not likely to concern Eddie, who is reportedly not a big drinker, or indeed, anyone else. That Obeid has been sentenced is justice, no more or less. But how much does our current political culture owe to the rum days?


Stop the x save the y

I CAN’T FEEL THE outrage. It’s true that Westconnex, the planned motorway to be constructed through and underneath Sydney’s inner west, is bad. It’s a model of combined woeful planning, culture war assumptions about transport, shocking public relations, and kleptonomics: a chuckleheaded set of map lines straight from love-in seminars between baked-in NSW Treasury headcases and cynical bagmen from the usual consultancies. It’s a highway project that would shame Robert Moses, who, when all was said, at least believed in the public good and not simply transport efficiency. It has been and will be a crappy project from the get-go to the eventual ribbon-cutting ceremony, and it should justify every vociferous demonstration, tree ribbon, and lie-in. Yet I can’t quite gather the strength to be infuriated. What is worth saving?


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