Friday, November 19, 2004

Mark Latham Quarterly Essay, by Margaret Simons

The latest Quarterly Essay is from Margaret Simons. She's a journalist who has written books about politics. Plus she writes novels. I've not seen any of them. Her Quarterly Essay is about Mark Latham, his background, political beliefs, time on the Liverpool Council etc.

This is not a bad effort, although by the end I was left cringing. It's an even and balanced look at Latham, but I can't be convinced by his lovey-dovey social capital program. At essay's end Simons says she likes Latham because she thinks he's optimistic. I can't buy any of that, and when I finished the essay I realised that I am well and truly over Mark Latham. All the 'ease the squeeze' talk during the election was enough for me. I felt like saying, Ease the Cheese!

She tried to get an interview with Latham for the essay, but he declined, or refused. He talks to the more mainstream media, but is not interested in the Quarterly Essay readership. Simons decided to go to one of his public forums, and it provides an interesting part of the book.

There was one thing I was in total agreement with her about Latham. Why wasn't everyone in the media dissecting his books from day one? Anyone who has read everything he's written in toto can't help but be amazed at how comprehensively thought out his program is, and how little he has deviated from it.

I share the same amazement that Margaret Simons does at how much his books have been ignored by the media. Personally, I don't think much of his intellectual output. The third-way is a decade old now. It looks dated. You get the impression that much of Civilising Global Capital is a digest of a swag of recent books on social theory that Latham has been fond of. I'm sure it will date pretty quickly too.

I wonder how much longer Latham can last. The gloss has certainly now worn off.

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