AQ: Australian Quarterly - - CONTENTS - Grant Mills Ed­i­tor-at-large

If there is a no­bil­ity within the cap­i­tal­ist project, it is that the whole ed­i­fice is built on as­pi­ra­tion. It teaches that the as­pi­ra­tions of the in­di­vid­ual will ben­e­fit the ma­jor­ity; the great­est ben­e­fit arises from ev­ery­one striv­ing for them­selves. Yet it teaches us noth­ing about hope. In fact, hope seems in­com­pat­i­ble with this model – it is a pale flicker on its own. Hope is not as­pi­ra­tion, nor is it op­ti­mism. Op­ti­mism deals with pos­si­ble re­al­i­ties; it is the light of our ev­ery­day. Hope, by con­trast, ex­ceeds all ra­tio­nale, it is buoy­ant in the face of his­tory or cir­cum­stance, it en­ables us to see into the fu­ture and to en­vi­sion the im­pos­si­ble. Other than this loss of long-term vi­sion, there is an­other prob­lem with as­pi­ra­tion be­ing the un­der­pin­ning hu­man driver of our economies. If we be­come fo­cused on the achieve­ment of short-term ad­vances in our ma­te­rial or so­cial sta­tus, we also be­come sub­servient to their coun­ter­points – hav­ing some­thing taken away, be­ing re­duced.

This is why so many po­lit­i­cal fear tac­tics re­late to hav­ing some­thing stolen; jobs, cul­ture, your hard-earned taxes.

The trans­for­ma­tive power of hope so rarely bares its head in out polity any­more – the elec­tion of Obama, and be­fore that Kevin ’07 be­ing among the rare ex­am­ples. And, as so many peo­ple wake up to the il­lu­sion that as­pi­ra­tion does not au­to­mat­i­cally equal suc­cess and hap­pi­ness, this at­ten­dant lack of hope leads to dis­en­chant­ment with the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, and so­cial sys­tems at large…

This is a very for­ward-fo­cused AQ. We look at how we can re­store hope and re­fresh trust in the sys­tems we rely on, whether it’s the me­dia, the govern­ment or the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. Lead­ing the charge, Louise Tar­rant asks the ques­tion, ‘If you woke up in the Aus­tralia of your dreams, what would it look like?’ – and finds that hope doesn’t lie too far below the sur­face. We also look at mod­ern civics ed­u­ca­tion and the is­sues around low­er­ing the vot­ing age, and how we can best pre­pare young Aus­tralians to en­gage with their democ­racy.

We ex­plore the set­ting of eth­i­cal frame­works around the tech­nolo­gies of the fu­ture, the ef­fect of me­dia con­cen­tra­tion on our lives, and the need for ev­i­dence-based de­ci­sions in ed­u­ca­tion re­form.

I hope you en­joy.

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