My day job is as a policy public servant in the state government of Victoria, in the south-eastern corner of Australia. Despite the discouragement to public servants to speak their mind openly in public words, I have written a number of reflections and short essays on the topic of governing. In this blog I have moved from posting these thoughts on a previous pseudonymous blog, to writing in my own name. Publish or be damned?
I have posted two conference papers I have given over the years on issues I have dealt with at work:
- Why is alcohol policy difficult?, and
- From Flashbacks to Testimony, on the approach to emotions and trauma in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
These essays include:
- Free speech and the public service
- My series: 13 ways of looking at a bureaucrat. You can find all mini-essays, prompted by Wallace Stevens poem by clicking on the governing, bureaucracy or politics tags.
- Republics in distress
- Democracy’s discontents
- Myths of power: merchant, soldier, sage…?
- A song of sorries
- Behaviour anecdotes teams
- The return of the venal office holder and tax farmer
- Political order and political decay in Australia
- Millennial predictions: big states will continue to fragment
- An interlude on disaffection and living in truth
- Collapsing new buildings of government
- Cultural fragmentation and the collapse of authority in Western democracies
- The end of history revisited
- Cultural decay and political institutions
- A multi-polar world
- The return of sacred violence
- On tyranny or terror
- The unravelling of empires
- Political emotions
- Donald Trump and America’s wounded pride
- “Citizenship is a spiritual experience”
- The tragedy of the modern university
- On the renunciation of the political world
- Do we repair our republics with big ideas or ordinary virtues?
I believe in what I call the ordinary virtues of governing well. It is a kind of philosophy of my second vocation. Like Confucius and Machiavelli, I preach the virtues of this tradition, despite the difficulties I encounter when I try to enact these virtues in the institutions of our time.