Politics now, now

Stephen Muecke

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[...]on the streets the mood went from the cheerfulness of 'Land Rights for Gay Whales' bumper stickers, as if politics in the public sphere still had something of a sporting competition about it, to the much more oppressive language that Meaghan is targeting in her piece. Meaghan pinpointed that shift: 'At times it almost seems that the characteristic Left theoretical question has become -11 What's all this crap, then?!" Now, I don't know if Keith Windschuttle left the NSWIT building after a disagreement with the authoritarian Marxist Dean, Bill Bonney, but he headed down-town and a decade later was sent in to the front line of the culture wars by The Australian newspaper and figures like Gerard Henderson, and became something of a pioneering neo-con with his The Killing of History book, subtitled (How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past).3 What was being unravelled, in an extremely effective counter-revolution, was what Meaghan had called 'one of the greatest achievements of 1970s radical politics, namely the occupation by the Left of positions of real and effective social and political power'.4 She is referring here to the progressive gains that were made under the short-lived government of Gough Whitlam, looking back over a decade and allowing herself a broad generalisation via aphorism, tripping an alarm for those of us who were still confident that the progressive seventies could somehow continue: 'In 1975 everything was, oppressively, Political. When I think of the resulting loss to the Left of so much goodwill, enthusiasm, commitment and activist energy coming from quarters not necessarily recognisable as 'ours', a loss often directly attributable to the Left's own conservatism, inertia and punitive style-scrutineering, the fact that some stylish young kid might be striking nihilistic poses in the latest art-exhibition catalogue is quite frankly the very least of my worries.5 Is it all Meaghan's fault because she didn't kick the Left hard enough, or that there weren't a thousand Meaghan Morrises doing similar things, showing how a Left politics could forge ahead with risky renewal and change? Notes 1, Meaghan Morris, 'Politics Now: Anxieties of a Petit-bourgeois intellectual, Intervention, no, 2D, 1986; Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, no, 32/33, 1986, pp, 4-19, republished in The Pirate's Fiancée, Verso, New York, 1988, pp, 173-86, 2, Paul Willemen, Editorial, Framework, no, 32/33, 1986, p, 5, 3, Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History (How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past), McLeay Press, Sydney, 1994, 4, Morris, 'Politics Now', Framework, p, 12, 5, ibid,, pp, 11-12, 6, Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2015, 7, Stephen Muecke, 'What is Fictocriticism?', in The Mother's Day Protest and Other Fictocritical Essays, Rowman and Littlefield international, London, 2016, 8, Bruno Latour, 'A Life Among Conceptual Characters', New Literary History, vol, 47, 2016, special symposium on Latour and the Humanities, ed, Rita Felski and Stephen Muecke, pp, 463-76, Bibliography Felski, R., The Limits of Critique, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2015. https://doi. org/10.1086/686957 Latour, B., 'A Life Among Conceptual Characters', New Literary History, vol. 47, 2016, special symposium on Latour and the Humanities, ed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-38
Number of pages5
JournalCultural Studies Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

2018 by the author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license


  • Cultural studies
  • Meaghan Morris
  • Politics Now
  • politics


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