This is a video of a debate on ‘What is right? What is left?’ at the Festival of Questions in Melbourne in October. It was hosted by the Wheeler Centre. Seven of us had two minutes each to answer ‘What is right for immigration?’, ‘…for the economy?’ and ‘…for society?’. Sounds mad, but it was actually an engaging event.


One comment

  1. jswagner

    Yes, engaging and helpful. I appreciated your mention in the immigration section of the shattering of lives and hope through Europe’s and Australia’s outsourced of preliminaries to Libya and Nauru. That broadening of the problem to beyond the immediate borders was especially liberal and helpful, even if it wasn’t followed up on.

    It almost feels off-topic to bring up how little the respect and quality of government and regulation management comes up in these policy conversations, as if we have to treat government execution as static, as just politics with boring machines in the back. In my country, the right typically thinks non-military/non-police government is corrupt, misguided, or incompetent, while the left eschews patriotism in general and assumes a vow of silence when it comes to government management acumen, tradeoffs, and a corrosive system of tenure. Neither leverages an appropriate patriotism, the sense of service and sacrifice that should imbue our citizen’s perspective on government, voluntarism, and public-private partnerships. And where are the bemoaned and burgeoning aged of the West, with the wisdom and sense to make a difference, relieved of the need to work while still quite young? I see them spending their children’s inheritance, mostly, engaged in inane optimizations of comfort or security or distraction; our needed exemplars are on the golf course or, worse, in front of the TV.

    We need the “identity” of countrymen, patriots, parish and club members, to rid ourselves of this toxic disengagement that has almost axiomatically chased our many decades of Western relative peace and prosperity. We’re all walking in the desert on solving this one, though I do have a dedicated public servant for a sister, a shrewd cataloguer of the small miracles and utter failures that make up government; her skirmishes and helplessness kicks out ideas here and there. One solution did present itself here: as the American on the panel said, education in democratic countries needs to be looping in kids and young people to participation as a matter of course, particularly in local government, making democracy not a historical fact they take for granted, but a possibility they can engender. Something of that, surely.

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