EDITORIAL: If Labor under Latham wins the next federal election, its main task will be to increase investment in public infrastructure and repair the damage done to public education and health systems by the Howard government. Dissent outlines the political challenges this presents and how they can be overcome.

IAN McAULEY describes how the decision by the Howard Government to halve the capital gains tax rate has rewarded speculation, penalised hard work and long-term investment and contributed to the housing bubble.

GREG FORD & CHARLES LIVINGSTONE analyse how the Howard government has undermined Medicare’s key elements – particularly bulk billing and universality – and discuss what might be done to rectify this.

ANNABELLE LUKIN reviews Don Watson’s Death Sentence: the Decay of Public Language and argues that an understanding of the power of language helps explain how language is used to keep the poor poor, to wage unjust wars and to monopolise resources.

CHRISTOPHER LLOYD discusses Mark Latham’s exhortations promoting social capital in the form of activism, participation, lifelong learning and social entrepreneurship and points out that these are mere hollow shells without the resources supplied by the redistributive state.

From the perspective of a career in higher education (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra and the first Chairman of the Australian Research Council) DON AITKIN reflects on the meaning of dissent and its role in the generation of ideas which are the essential ingredient of change.

GLOSSO BABEL writes a personal reflection of what it feels like to be an American who loves his country and wept over the events of September 11, who shares the general fear of terrorism but worries that those who, like him, oppose the policies of the Bush administration, will be regarded as traitors.

JONATHAN MUIR says that the distinctive aspect of the Bush doctrine is not pre-emption, but to expand and prolong US hegemony.

GRIFF FOLEY traces the growing interdependence between legal and illegal economies and suggests that because it is not possible for the West to re-colonise states that harbour terrorist groups and because terrorism feeds on embargoes, the only way to combat it is for the West to promote economic and political change based on principles of international justice and co-operation.

JIM JUPP reviews Free Radicals by John McLaren which looks at the post war political influence of Ken Gott, Stephen Murray Smith and Ian Turner who all left the Communist Party in the 1950s.

FRED ARGY examines the deep philosophical divisions within the Left in Australia, particularly over welfare and fiscal stance, and suggests how they might be reconciled so that scarce intellectual resources can be directed at the real enemy – the ideological Right.

DOUG COCKS looks at the argument advanced by Susan Greenfield that human nature may not be sufficiently robust to survive the next wave of technological change. He suggests that social character probably will change, but adapt successfully as it did when the modern individual emerged from the medieval social structure and renaissance economic activity replaced salvation as the main social objective.

FRANK FISHER argues that a switch to renewable energy is not a panacea. Energy conservation is the cheapest and most environmentally benign energy source.

JAY BULWORTH looks at the history of the UN and argues that right from its beginnings in 1945, the US has always seen the UN as an instrument of American foreign policy.  Download the whole article here.


NOTE FOR EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: For permission to reprint articles, or for interviews, contact Kenneth Davidson or Lesley Vick on tel/fax 03 9347 7839 or email

D!SSENT is published 3 times a year, is available on subscription and is on sale nationally at newsagents and major bookshops.