The poet in a time of terror

In December 2017 a man in a black SUV drove his car into a group of pedestrians crossing the street outside Flinders Street station in central Melbourne. The incident had occurred less than a year since the Bourke St event, two city blocks away, leading to the deaths of six people, a traumatised city, a... Continue Reading →

The return of sacred violence

"Central to both torture and terror is the political psychology of degradation"  Paul Kahn, Sacred violence: torture, terror and sovereignty Violent imitation, which makes adversaries more and more alike, is at the root of all myths and cultures. Rene Girard, Battling to the end. It is a characteristic of our time that as political authority... Continue Reading →

On tyranny or terror?

The American historian of the holocaust in Eastern Europe, Timothy Snyder has delivered in On Tyranny: 20 lessons of the twentieth century a best-seller by combining seemingly wise apothogems - be ascourageous  as you can, be calm when the unthinkable arrives - with a wailing cry for help from the soul of liberal America in... Continue Reading →

Islam and false lessons from history.

Tony Abbott has provoked outrage in some circles, and proud banner raising in others, by proposing that Islam needed to reform itself, and so undergo something akin to the complex sequences of cultural and institutional changes that led to the formation  of politically secular, if morally religious, liberal democracy. Islam, he says, making an argument... Continue Reading →


It is not just the Paris attacks but Lebanon, the Russian plane from Egypt and Paris in quick succession, in a crescendo of terror. And Hollande's direct words: we are at war. Speaking to a colleague when making morning coffee, I was told there was nothing new, nothing distinctive about this attack. David Kilcullen says... Continue Reading →

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