The Passion of Politics: The Role of Ideology and Political Theory in Australia

The Passion of Politics: The Role of Ideology and Political Theory in Australia

The Passion of Politics: The Role of Ideology and Political Theory in Australia

The Passion of Politics: The Role of Ideology and Political Theory in Australia

Synopsis

Behind the evening news lies a world of political ideas and passionate conflict. The Passion of Politics unpacks the ideologies and theories which drive these political clashes, helping to explain why we admire some politicians and loathe others. The ideas driving today's politics all have roots in the political struggles of the past. They've been responses to great injustices and challenges, and they've underpinned enormous achievements. In Australia, they've helped create one of the most wealthy, free, and just societies in history. Today we are faced with important choices between flawed options. The struggles of the past have undermined our belief in utopias. Yet the current battles remain crucial to defining our future. Understanding the dynamics of the ideas in play is essential to equipping ourselves to take part in these vital debates.

Excerpt

This book was written to provide an accessible introduction to the great debates that have rocked Australian politics. It is also a scoping study for a new approach to ideology and political theory. General readers may want to skip this preface and go straight to the introduction. For scholarly readers, this preface outlines the theoretical and methodological framework that underpins the book.

At its most basic level, this book is a case study that demonstrates the centrality of ideology in Australian politics. There is a long-standing tradition of arguing that political ideas and ideology are not very important in Australian politics. Our politics is often described as being pragmatic. It has been argued that if there is any guiding principle at all, it is utilitarianism: a simple desire to deliver the greatest good for the greatest number. This assertion is convenient for both those who want to deny the idealistic principles of their opponents, and those who want to disown past failures of principle. Yet it fails to acknowledge that ideas are crucial to shaping what we perceive to be the great problems of our society, and what we believe are our options for solving them. It neglects the role of ideas in shaping what we think might lead to the greatest good, and who we might include in the greatest number.

This book seeks to demonstrate just how central ideas are to understanding the defining turning points of Australian politics. It traces the evolution of political ideologies since Federation, and explores the impact of each new set of ideas. in the process, it draws out the . . .

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