Stop Press: Farewell to Arena Printing

In April of this year, Arena said farewell to our most recent city centre, a former warehouse on Kerr Street, Fitzroy. It’s the third city centre we’ve had since we established our first on Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy, in 1983. But the 2020 farewell had far greater significance, since it marked the conclusion of our active involvement with printing, both of our own publications and commercially, through a full-service firm. That would have been the occasion for some sort of ceremony had it not occurred at the height of the first COVID-19 lockdown. History pays no tribute to histories, the innumerable conversations and stories therein entwined. In the absence of a public celebration, and as an exercise in itself, it seems worthwhile to consider the decades-long, multiply articulated practice that was focused on Arena’s city centres. Here we reflect upon what three generations of Arena activists had been trying to do in the context of a politics that began in the twentieth-century New Left and passed through multiple versions of combining intellectual, social and cultural collective practice that were in a complex relationship with Left traditions. We look at how this got done, and briefly consider the directions we’ll take as we inaugurate our fourth city centre.

Beginnings

Arena’s emergence in Melbourne in 1963 was part of a diffuse movement across the radical Left of the Western world, challenging not merely the centrality of Communist parties and the theoretical apparatus of Marxism-Leninism but also some of the basic tenets of Marxism itself. Indeed, this was more pronounced in Arena than in many other comparable publications of the time. What marked Arena’s difference was an attention to forms of social constitution other than by socio-economic class. For the founding editors, this approach was occasioned in part by a background in classical social theory and social psychology, but also by a more practical concern with how a radical emancipatory movement might hold together.

Relatedly, Arena called out questions of what the nature of social constitution might be. This core line of inquiry arose from social analysis developed by Geoff Sharp, in which he theorised the special character of the social relations of intellectuals, and scientists within that grouping, and the emergence of the intellectually trained as a more general phenomenon. Geoff argued that these relational practices, which would be realised in the techno-sciences and help to initiate a networked society, were central to how the social and economic world was being reconstructed. Marxism had never given significance to such processes. Technologies had certainly played a role in the development and complexity of the relations of capitalist development, but the nature of the relations of those who would come to develop them in the twentieth century especially were not seen to have the specificity, or relative autonomy, that Geoff theorised. The observation and analysis of the growing significance of the intellectually trained as a social stratum simultaneously involved a critique of contemporary scientific technologies, as well as the general transformation of economy that would culminate in late-twentieth-century globalisation, grounded in the digital revolution and neoliberal governance. Editors Nonie Sharp and Doug White, and regular contributors, developed a stream of original commentary and writing on education, Indigenous issues and other topics. In the 1970s and 1980s, Arena’s theoretical approach was deepened and extended by editors Gerry Gill, John Hinkson, Paul James and Alison Caddick in the fields of economics, media, nationalism and culture, and gender and the body.

This critical analysis was coupled in the first decade with a practical project, the printing of the publication itself. Printing presses were acquired and set to work in a shed on founding editors Geoff and Nonie Sharp’s rural block at Plenty in 1974. There had been a long tradition of radical left groups running their own printing presses in order to publish under repressive conditions. When Arena commenced, less than twenty-five years had passed since Prime Minister Robert Menzies had attempted to criminalise communism (and anyone deemed by the government to be a communist), and Australia’s version of McCarthyism (under which Geoff and Nonie were heavily targeted) destroyed and limited careers and lives throughout the 1960s.

A turn towards self-reliance in media production was also part of an exploration of how the division between intellectual and manual labour might be broken down as a way of creating a richer mode of collective work and cooperation. This was quite different from the Leninist notion of the publication as an ‘organiser’ anchoring hierarchical relations within a militant group. Thus an ‘Arena’ rather than a ‘Tribune’, for instance. But nor was it an adoption of the popular notion of the time of wholly flattened hierarchies and absence of structure. Instead, printing the publication, developing the skills to handle the complexities of hot-lead letterpress printing, acquiring the machines and equipment, and learning to maintain them, served as a form of material cooperative association. The people drawn to the project were engaged in the politics of how to live, as well as of how class relations could be reconstructed. The orientations and practical capabilities of this group positioned them distinctively in relation to the production of ideas, articles and discussion.

There is a big story to be told about those years, both the huge overall challenge of a whole team of people learning to print on the job, and the innumerable difficulties, resistances and joys entailed—of loading heavy racks of lead type, followed by the lightness of touch required to keep paper landing just right to get something other than sludge on the page; winter all-nighters running the machines in the rammed-earth sheds in which they were housed (sheds Arena members had built); the smell of melted glue (from binding machines) and molten lead from the linotype typesetting machines. Through these years there was a steady acquisition of shared expertise. Everyone who spent any substantial time on the letterpress machines—elegant Italian behemoths purchased when the industry as a whole began switching over to offset printing—had a moment when they felt like giving it all up. But nothing stopped the printing of Arena. Literally. Production continued even when the printing sheds burnt down.

That had happened at the Plenty block in 1979 when bushfires came through, melting the iron-sheeted buildings around the presses. One immediate result of that was a spectacular Arena cover featuring a photo of the presses standing in a field, amid twisted metal. The other was the creation of a dual focus. Surviving presses were relocated and new ones purchased and established on eighty-five acres of land near Malmsbury in central Victoria. Initially owned by editor Doug White, the block became the focus of an expanded collective project. Life-world preoccupations since 1975 then accompanied weekend printing, which proceeded on the block for ten years, from 1980 to 1990, generating the first series of 100 issues of Arena, as well as several book titles under Arena’s imprints of Kibble Books and later Arena Publications.

Yet, by the mid-1980s, the forces that had drawn people to the bush and the experimental practice of letterpress printing were waning. The group decided it was time to create a distinct city centre for Arena. The perceived need for a city base emerged in response to the new political questions facing the New Left as the radical upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s began to fade. By the 1980s, the Left’s hopes of a rapid, radical transformation of social life had dwindled. As they had done so, a number of contradictions in the New Left vision had become visible. The notion of a countercultural ‘revolution in everyday life’ that would create not only a democratic economy but a non-hierarchical state and a transformation of gender, race and sexuality relations had stumbled badly. Simplistic notions of the human capacity for self-determination, a celebration of individual autonomy, and an absolute challenge to collective cultural norms had created a series of countercultural communal disasters. There was a rise of a new kind of social-issue politics that focused on individual self-realisation, while a ‘politics of depth’ fell away.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Arena had been part of a broad spectrum of left thinking that shared a commitment to a form of materialism, and marxism with a small ‘m’. Very rapidly, in the 1980s, especially in Australia, a large section of the intellectual/theoretical Left adopted the ideas of poststructuralism and postmodernism, which affirmed the primacy of language and the image over the real, as well as a politics that had very little to say of any complexity about what it was that made us human.

There was thus a new arena opening up, in the city, of fundamental debate about what a fully human politics might mean, or even if ‘politics’ adequately described the activity under consideration. But it was not merely about the movement of ideas. The creation of an Arena city centre was also a project exploring how people could create community out of a shared project in the less bounded conditions of urban living.

Creating community in the city

The first centre, acquired in 1983—and where various editors, members and friends would also live—was a triangular white building in North Fitzroy, a popular site for activist graffiti, at the point, perhaps symbolic, where Brunswick Street becomes St Georges Road. The centre became a place for regular discussion evenings and series, as well as dinners and fundraisers. It also allowed for the gradual expansion of the in-house printing of Arena, with typesetting and pre-press production done in the city, and printing and finishing (binding and trimming) continuing for several years at the Malmsbury block. Thus began the development of a new commercial arm, with the purchase of two small ‘multilith’ one-person-operated offset printing machines. The ground floor of 639 Brunswick Street filled up with small offset presses together with weird and wonderful antiquated machines—a Ludlow hand-rolled galley printer, and old wooden type trays, used, for once, for their original purpose rather than adorning the retro-chic cafes then springing up in the area.

While hot-metal printing had been undertaken as an occasional activity by Arena people who had learned from each other on the job, offset printing requires more sustained training and skill. Several members of the Arena group undertook offset-printing training, including John Howard, who, along with his then partner, Jenny Kufer, had earlier trained in the arcane art of hot-metal typesetting and been pivotal to the Malmsbury operations. John now took up the new challenge of managing the emergent commercial printery. Running such an operation in the city presented new challenges for the group. It demanded attention to the politics of combining commodity production with an orientation to finding ways of association that were neither market based nor bureaucratic on the one hand, and also not naively spontaneous and non-structured, on the other. These potential tensions were navigated while Arena was being produced by a core editorial group, with a general editor (Geoff Sharp) often involving two or three guest editors in a working group for each issue. General and more specialised discussion evenings were hosted, bringing together a wider group of people, some of whom continued to contribute to the work at Malmsbury—printing, as well as building houses and a library, and maintaining a Morello cherry orchard.

In all this time, Arena neither sought nor received any form of government grant. Staying separate from the state, at a time when many left and radical publications had abandoned a suspicion of such connections and were increasingly well disposed to an official role, was not merely a question of political independence for Arena. It was about the development of self-sustaining parallel political and social structures that were fostering something other than a political party. Developing a printery that was making an operating surplus was an important part of this independence.

The discussions held upstairs ranged across the concerns of the radical spectrum, and beyond. One focus was the Asia-Pacific region, at a time when global shifts and regional movements were creating new fault lines. Members of the Arena group were solid, and in some cases founding, members of the Australia–East Timor Association and the West Papua Association, both dedicated to supporting related independence movements when the Hawke Labor governments were slavishly backing Indonesia. These alliances brought numerous visitors to the centre, as did involvement in Aboriginal struggles both locally in Melbourne and further afield, in part via Nonie Sharp’s decades-long relationships with people in the Torres Strait and Papua New Guinea. Nonie authored a series of books on these matters, which were published (and printed) by Kibble Books and Arena Publishing among a wide range of titles produced from the 1970s to the 1990s, from Alastair Campbell’s groundbreaking John Batman and the Aborigines to Boris Frankel’s From the Prophets Deserts Come.

The involvement with these cultural and community groups was more than simply activist, and more than just cultural. The Arena Drama Group (not to be confused with the youth theatre group of the same name) had developed after a key conference on nuclear war at the Malmsbury block in 1981. This group, led by Helen Sharp, drew in editors, artists and activists, including those with no involvement in writing but who were passionate about political contestation. The drama group became a fixture at demonstrations in Melbourne for many years. It had an especially strong presence at anti-nuclear marches, with its band of disturbingly made-up Hibakusha (atomic-bomb survivors), including several children, presided over by the Grim Reaper.

Arena’s involvement in campaigns such as anti-war movements and the rights of self-determination of colonised First Peoples went beyond the conventional Marxist critique of imperialism. Combining activism with a critical encounter with the classical sociological tradition, Arena was taking a more complex position—that First Peoples had a right not only to their own states but also to pursue ways of life that continued practices and traditions that had predated and survived into the colonial and imperialist era. Though standard Marxism had long since renounced simplistic ideas of historical stages, Marxist-influenced movements had never lost the implicit attitude that traditional life-modes were simply an absence of a modernisation to come, with the struggle being over how that modernisation would take place. Our position was that capitalism was one part of a comprehensive process of transformation of people’s life-worlds that would, even if done in impeccably socialist manner, leave societies—all societies—evacuated of rich meaning and social connection.

To fight for the right to live at ‘many levels of abstraction’ was not to uncritically support everything that came with it; the difficult but necessary task was to support the right and worth of traditional modes of life while also supporting the transformation of inherited patriarchal, racist and other features of enforced assimilation. This approach, in a wider manner, was also applied to questions such as nationalism—which we saw as an abstracted desire for community rather than as simple jingoism. Relatedly, we considered policies of multiculturalism and high immigration, which much of the Left supported, as simplistic re-engineering of complex societies in service to hypermodernity, the creation of a world without place, presented as a liberation from parochialism.

This gradual elaboration of a position that was departing from, and critical of, the tenets of even the newest leftish Marxism made for vigorous but constructive debates, as a broad Left, stuck in its greatest crisis of irrelevance of the twentieth century, sought to find a new way forward.

Critically engaging the postmodern turn

The same was true of debates around the new intellectual movements of poststructuralism and postmodernism, which were taking the Australian humanities by storm in the late 1980s. Many of its advocates had been New Left activists and theorists in an era of defeat and sectarianism. Many Marxists rejected the ‘posts-’ proposition that signifier and image had no grounding in a material reality, dismissing such stuff as either gobbledegook or ‘bourgeois idealism’. We saw much of this new writing as an accurate description of a contemporary reality—a world made out of globalised media, capital flows, hypermobility, and techno-sciences with the capacity to undo older realities.

Arena’s critical response was to highlight that these were features of a distinct historical moment and related cultural shift, whereas poststructuralists had generalised what they wrote about as a transhistorical rule of the autonomy of language and image. Poststructuralism was, in that sense, not merely an ideology of hypermodernity but a meta-ideology, in that such positions were theories of ideology that themselves had a blind spot around their own presuppositions. Debates with scholars such as Simon During and David Holmes were important in the development of our ideas, which were an expression of a longstanding position. In the huge explosion in theorising practices from the 1960s onward, the one practice that was rarely theorised was that of theorising itself.

Right into the 1980s, theory on the Left had been linked to political practice often as an extension of strategy regarding commonly understood aims, that is, the achievement of socialism. As the socialist possibility had faded fast in the 1970s, the Australian humanities had continued to expand. Poststructuralism and postmodernism appeared in English and film-studies departments, with a proliferation of publishing that more or less saw writing as an end in itself. The realm of ‘theory’ became the arena of debate and struggle. For Arena this was particularly crucial since we saw a process of critical reflection by intellectuals on what they did as crucial to the renewal of an ‘emancipatory’ vision, after Marxism had fallen short. Postmodernism presented as a form of counterfeit reflection, in which interpretive intellectuals found the world to be text—by an incredible coincidence the medium they worked in—and whose character constituted them in their social role.

The debates and discussions at Brunswick Street, and continuing into our next centre at Argyle Street in Fitzroy, would consolidate and elaborate Arena’s position, while also drawing in a third generation of people compelled by its combination of deep inquiry and address to the world, as writers, editors and activists. The Brunswick Street centre saw discussions on the body and sexuality; feisty interactions between street poets and literary scholar Dinny O’Hearn; and a series of discussions drawing large attendances on the transformation of the universities, involving among many contributors Judith Brett and Simon During.

With the trek ever deeper into the theory wars, Arena’s approach was becoming two-headed: writing at a critical practical level on geopolitics and social struggles for a general activist-political audience while also publishing sustained theoretical encounters that had become more or less impossible for a non-specialist reader to follow. By the late 1980s it had become clear that these two strands sat unevenly in the same publication, and that Arena’s publications could be split into two distinct but related projects. Arena Magazine and Arena Journal would be launched in 1991 and 1992, respectively.

We had been partly motivated to turn to offset printing in recognition of the emergent cultural significance of images. This in itself required new technology, as our typesetting and letterpress set-up could only deal with text. Arena Magazine was conceived with a new eye to the importance of design, the initial work for which was undertaken by Christos Tsiolkas and Anthony O’Donnell. These developments in turn demanded an expansion of the whole Arena operation and the development of a more substantial financial base. A larger city centre was required, one that could house an expanded printery as well as be a hub for our various activities.

This was the period when environmental politics moved from being a series of single issues to the question of the fate of the planet. At the same time, the ‘Communist’ Eastern European bloc was coming apart. Though the Soviet Union had long ceased to be any sort of model or inspiration for a critical Left, its dissolution marked the decisive end of a period of modernity that had dominated the twentieth century, and stressed the need for a radical encounter with the forces of modernity and, now, postmodernity. As communications technologies, body and medical transformation, and other techno-scientific pushes—including for nuclear power—began to shape the direction of the world more sweepingly than the old conflict of workers and capital, the need for an intellectually and practically radical approach was unquestionable.

The Argyle Street centre was a two-storey, block-deep, red-brick former garment factory, tucked behind the main drag of Brunswick St, with its four bookshops, several galleries and cafes. The building was a shell when Arena took it over. A working party of more than thirty people spent the summer of 1990 into 1991 building offices and a kitchen, installing a huge, mobile filing compactus, painting the ceiling, laying carpet and polishing floorboards. Live music for the 1991 launch party for the centre and new publications was provided by the band recently formed by Doug White’s son Jim. They had been given the name of ‘the Dirty Three’; it was their second gig (we asked them, at one point, to turn the volume down).

The expanded space of Argyle Street allowed for larger and more extensively publicised discussions. One series, which centred on questions of culture, capitalism, the commodity and the then rising discipline of cultural studies attracted more than 150 people to some sessions. A later series, co-sponsored, via Race Mathews, by the Fabian Society and Eureka Street, focused on globalisation. A fundraising dinner in 1997 transformed the place into a tightly packed dining room, with a Middle Eastern feast and live music played by David Bridie, who had earlier been a student of editor Paul James. Jeremy Salt spoke on the Middle East. It was at this dinner that long-time advocate Pat Walsh forecast the independence of East Timor.

Downstairs, the printery was rapidly expanding in response to an increasing flow of work from the community sector. This involved a shift in the character of the business, with the purchase of a Heidelberg GTO and an enormous two-colour East German A-1 press. It was a monster of a thing, the length of a terrace house and higher than any of the people who worked on it, who had to jump on a running board to manage its multiple simultaneous processes from the top. Later we purchased a Komori four-colour A-2 press, smaller but faster and easier to print with.

During the first few years at Argyle Street, several of us who had learned on the job continued as part-time printers while completing university degrees. Yet running the more complex printing equipment required professionally trained printers. Over time, a clearer separation emerged between the processes and people involved in the work of the printery and the group’s wider activities. In this new phase Arena became competitive with Melbourne’s midsize printing businesses for large-volume jobs. Over a number of elections, electoral material for the Victorian Greens came through the doors. There was a short moment where the place was crazy with work, abuzz with the roar of constantly running presses, plate making and guillotining. One year we printed the electoral material for both the Greens and the Australian Democrats, and had printed material bursting out through the back doors into adjoining buildings.

But the tide was turning. Jeff Kennett had come to power in 1992 and slashed government funding for the community sector. Through the mid-1990s the universities were reeling from the impact of the Dawkins reforms, around which we had very big meetings. The restructures that followed impacted directly on several of Arena’s editors. In 1995, John Hinkson, who had spent two decades lecturing in education at La Trobe University, took a voluntary redundancy and moved across to manage the printery.

Weathering globalisation

The transition to a commercial printery was necessary to the continuation of Arena’s full political/intellectual life, and its independence from state funding, but it required a change in the way the printery was managed and integrated into the wider Arena project. John Hinkson’s role was to be crucial in holding together an organisation of many parts. At the turn of the century globalisation hit the printing sector hard. In Melbourne, numerous city businesses closed down, unable to compete in an environment where it was cheaper to outsource jobs to South-East Asia and have them shipped back than to print anything locally. In this highly competitive and volatile environment computerisation presented its own challenges and imperatives. Quoting on potential print jobs became a complex exercise with a multitude of variables to be accounted for. As the incoming manager, John set about creating a purpose-built quoting system for the printery and a database for Arena’s subscriptions—for which purpose he taught himself coding—and coordinated many of Arena’s activities, an enormous task stretching over two and a half decades. Without this central, demanding coordination role, Arena could not have maintained its punishing publishing schedule while also retaining its independence.

In 2003 Argyle Street was sold and Arena moved to 2 Kerr Street, Fitzroy. Many of the features Arena writers had been observing for some time began to impact more palpably on Arena’s activities. There was a transformation in academic publishing by which the many small journals and magazines that traditionally operated out of university departments began to join up to transnational publishing houses such as Taylor & Francis, Elsevier, Thompson and so forth, gaining perhaps international exposure, and certainly offsetting the costs away from shrinking faculty budgets, but losing something of their local/national relevance and editorial independence along the way.

Arena’s publications were approached a number of times by the global publishing industry, but we rejected them. We were keen to maintain editorial independence and also resist the commodification of academic knowledge (the prices for once-local journals tended to soar after corporate takeover). On the printing side, there was noticeably less work from the academic sector as a consequence of these developments, and the informal but important cooperative relations between Australian journals and intellectuals, such as the sharing of advertising and publicity between publications, also dropped away. Similarly, across this period there was a decline in the sense of a shared culture of debate and ideas. These changes in printing and publishing reflected the narrowing of academic life more generally.

Indeed, whereas the 1980s and 1990s had seen university academics publish in local journals, including Arena, and turn out for public discussions and events at the various Arena centres, the twenty-first century saw another shift, as university academics were first encouraged, then increasingly obliged, to publish in specifically identified ‘top-ranked’ journals. Many Melbourne- and Australia-based journals were accordingly marginalised, often disappearing in this new arrangement where ranking and ‘prestige’ became central to any academic career, or simply to survival in the post-Dawkins university.

This makeover of academic life in market terms, where intellectual expression became a series of ranked and benchmarked ‘outputs’, resulted in a serious challenge to public debate and the atrophy of the public intellectual. Despite this—and because of it—Arena confirmed its commitment to fostering serious public discussion. Both the journal and the magazine were increasingly set apart in the larger world of publications. They offered broad social critique and inquiry, while magazines became more boutique and niche, and academic journals became timid, preferring theoretical micro-advances over social engagement even at a theoretical level.

Fostering aesthetic practice

Arena at Kerr Street attracted a new generation of activists and young intellectuals who had given up on mainstream politics and academia as dead ends. Public discussions continued here, but this most recent chapter in the Arena project was characterised by the re-emergence of aesthetic-physical labour: ‘makers’ groups, film and photo production, and exhibition spaces were also housed at Kerr Street. We hosted many lively, memorable events. One night in winter 2012, amid a torrential downpour, people packed the room and spilled onto the footpath to hear prominent Aboriginal activists address the fifth anniversary of the Northern Territory Intervention. Arena Publications’ Coercive Reconciliation had by then sold 4000 copies. Art and politics became a strong theme as we established an exhibition space, launched with a massively attended discussion night chaired by Kevin Murray. Alison Caddick coordinated a series of exhibitions that followed, including the first solo exhibition of paintings by Waanyi-Garawa artist and anti-mining activist Jack Green, and Jessie Boylan’s ‘Flow of Voices’ photographs and videos from the Gulf of Carpentaria. Thanks to Josh Lourensz, convenor of the Arena Project Space, a group of handy young architects remodelled the space, installing a very special swinging door into our library that made larger exhibitions possible, including Kristian Laemmle-Ruff’s powerful photographs of Pine Gap.

We held discussions on a variety of issues, often arising in the pages of the magazine, including food and agricultural production, the rise and meaning of Trump, Brexit, Syria, and digital surveillance. The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy held occasional events here; other groups used the space for one-off events around music, food and design, or used the nooks and crannies of the building for workshops. Emerging writers’ residencies were sponsored, bringing a new generation of young people into the Arena fold. Part of the space was sublet to the Artists’ Film Workshop, which held regular hands-on production events with its members and collaborated with us on several important public screenings and discussions. At Kerr Street, as in all three centres over the course of forty years, a library created from complimentary subscriptions to other publications was maintained by Cleo Macmillan. Across this period Arena Magazine was made possible by the energetic voluntary work of several editorial groups, and back-up and mail-out assistance from many, including Betty Rouch and Jan Allen.

This sense of Arena as a place for such activities and events perhaps reflected a deep desire for renewal as the long arc of the New Left and the culture it had created began to come to an end—either politically coopted by neoliberalism or simply priced out by the booming creative economy. Melbourne real-estate values ballooned, and it became impossible to carry on many basic creative and social activities anywhere in the inner city at less than corporate prices. In the new century, the Arena space became a home for a host of artists, activists and thinkers, while the surrounding streets and suburbs were occupied by houses they could no longer afford to live in, restaurants they couldn’t eat in, galleries whose ‘professionalism’ became a barrier to access, and nearby universities that began to charge tens of thousands of dollars for an undergraduate degree.

If Arena writers had argued in the 1980s and 1990s that the fleeting pleasures of the information and media culture were all too entwined with the rise of global markets and the unmooring of taken-for-granted social and cultural anchors, this new generation was the first to feel this palpably. They were priced out of education and cultural life by the knowledge/creative classes, the intellectually trained generation that preceded them.

Ironically, this renewal of Arena’s physical space corresponded, perhaps unfortunately, with the dematerialisation of cultural and intellectual life more generally. More and more publications went online, and culture and information became largely free—or at least the idea of paying for it became less desirable. These developments impacted directly on Arena Printing, as a comprehensive shift in how people consumed culture caused a waning of desire for physical magazines, journals and other hard-copy printed material. It has also challenged Arena’s own publications.

The latest shift in Arena’s approach—as we have responded to these developments by closing the printery, retiring Arena Magazine and Arena Journal, and launching Arena Online and the new, quarterly Arena—continues the spirit in which the project was founded. In a very different time and context to the period in which we began, we remain committed to thinking and acting independently in a critical and radical manner, continually responding to changing circumstances. In so doing, Arena pursues commitments that lie at the foundations of the left project: to fight for the creation of a genuinely and fully human society, one in which the innumerable levels of human being and aspiration can be satisfied, between the earth and the skies. That is more than enough to go into the future with.

About the authors

Guy Rundle

Guy Rundle was founding co-editor of Arena Magazine and is Associate Editor of Arena (third series). He is a well-known essayist and is writer-at-large for Crikey. His most recent book Practice: Journalism, Essays and Criticism was published by Black Inc. in 2019.

More articles by Guy Rundle

Melinda Hinkson

Melinda Hinkson is a social anthropologist, executive director of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies and an Arena Publications Editor. In March 2023 she appeared as an expert witness for the Parumpurru (Justice) committee of Yuendumu at the coronial inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker.

More articles by Melinda Hinkson

Simon Cooper

Simon Cooper is an Arena Publications editor.

More articles by Simon Cooper

Categorised: Arena Quarterly #3

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