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

We hu­mans are adapt­able crea­tures, per­haps too adapt­able for our own good. We im­me­di­ately ac­cli­ma­tise to any new sit­u­a­tion or chal­lenge. Though we tend to fight the ero­sion of our ba­sic rights, once they are gone we con­cede that it’s prob­a­bly for good – we suf­fer fire and flood, re­build and then are sur­prised when it comes again a decade later – we live so fast that we only pass­ingly no­tice the cli­mate chang­ing, and then we for­get with the pass­ing of the sea­son. Only now, on the point of cri­sis, are we main­tain­ing the rage.

Much of this edi­tion echoes a poignant ques­tion: How did we get here, and what other paths might once have been open to us?

In the years after WWII, Aus­tralia in­sti­tuted an en­vi­able so­cial wel­fare sys­tem, build upon an egal­i­tar­ian ideal. De­spite the ebbs and flows of gov­ern­ment, the trend has been to chip away at this safety net to re­duce it to one of the mean­est in the de­vel­oped world. Why, when pun­ish­ing the most un­for­tu­nate also pun­ishes our econ­omy, has this been the path of choice?

Nowhere is the pace of change, and the lack of choice, more ob­vi­ous than with tech­nol­ogy. Free-mar­ket ne­olib­er­al­ism rewards the first to mar­ket, with gov­ern­ments pri­ori­tis­ing in­no­va­tion over re­spon­si­bil­ity. We are told that the only way to stay ahead is to keep run­ning for­ward as fast as we can… but who ex­actly is set­ting this di­rec­tion? Zac Rogers re­turns to AQ with an­other deep dive on tech­nol­ogy and what it is to be human.

When talk­ing about peo­ple mak­ing de­ci­sions on oth­ers’ be­half, it is hard to ig­nore Na­tive Ti­tle and the cur­rent fight be­tween the W&J peo­ple and Adani. The on­go­ing bat­tle un­der­scores the long-known is­sues with Na­tive Ti­tle law. With some con­sid­ered de­bate and some gen­eros­ity of spirit, Na­tive Ti­tle could be some­thing that we con­sciously im­prove upon, rather than chip away at - wouldn’t that be a legacy?

As the world gets faster and our lives more hec­tic, we risk los­ing our­selves if we can’t re­mem­ber the im­por­tance of slow, con­sid­ered think­ing. Aus­tralia, more than ever, needs to un­der­stand where it has been and where it is go­ing in this new decade - lest we find our­selves some­where we don’t want to be.

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