On the occasion of its centenary, Kangaroo ought to be read at the level of ideas. The book, in fact, sums up to being one of the most compelling and prognostic critiques ever made of democracy in Australia.
In the end, the notion of solastalgia may prove more helpful looking forward, for it charts much of the difficult mental terrain that the world will have to traverse.
I remember the sweet smell of the state Caykur tea factory, intimate, like perfume in the air; and the shabby suitcase traders from the ‘East’ in towns along the way, selling Russian cameras, samovar teapots, and handicrafts in makeshift harbour bazaars.
Why? you might exclaim, quite legitimately. Why do these philosophers do such things? There are at least two problems with asking this question. First of all, Why? is the philosophical question par excellence. Why do I have to eat this spinach? Why is the sky blue? Why do you ask such stupid questions?
There are shades of Swift in Cannon’s solutions to the Birth-Strikes movement: ‘have your child and shoot a banker … gun down a fossil fuel executive … kill a politician for each child you have’.
A strong case can be made that for half a generation Australia has been living a fantasy. Borrowing to finance nuclear submarines is only the latest example.
If a solution to the problem of fire in contemporary Australian society is to be found, it will not be at a purely technical level but will require a deep cultural and psychic reorientation.
Our focus should be on how to reform a society that has become structurally organised around a particular logic of asset values.
It was not only the scale of social and material destruction of the world wars but the collective experience of suffering that enabled the post-conflict remaking of societies.
The notion of France as a Pacific country surprises our closest island neighbours. Members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, for example, see it as a European country and a colonial power.
Meloni’s slogan ‘The free ride is over’ is eerily reminiscent of Mussolini’s ‘mutilated victory’, which referenced Italy’s ostensible ‘betrayal’ by the Allied powers after their victory in the First World War.
Even before the invasion, extreme weather and the pandemic had resulted in higher shipping costs, energy price inflation, labour shortages, and rising food prices.