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In the post-truth era, politicians invent ‘facts’ and ignore or deny the obvious, while business and the media are obsessed with marketing and consumption for the short term. What Is to Be Done is a long-awaited treatise from Australian Living Treasure Barry Jones on the challenges of modernity.

 

A sequel to the prescient bestseller, first published in 1982, that alerted the public to the likely impacts of information technologies and the emergence of a post-industrial society.

When Sleepers, Wake! was first released in Australia, it immediately became influential around the world: it was read by Deng Xiaoping and Bill Gates; was published in China, Japan, South Korea, and Sweden; and led to the author being the first Australian minister invited to address a G-7 summit meeting, held in Canada in 1985.

Now its author, the polymath and former politician Barry Jones, turns his attention to what has happened since — especially to work, class, social relationships, and climate in the digital age — and to the challenges faced by increasingly fragile democracies and public institutions.

Jones sees climate change as the greatest problem of our time, especially because political leaders are incapable of dealing with complex, long-term issues of such magnitude. Meanwhile, technologies such as the smartphone and the ubiquity of social media have reinforced the realm of the personal. This has weakened our sense of, or empathy with, ‘the other’, the remote, the unfamiliar, and all but destroyed our sense of community, of being members of broad, inclusive groups.

In the post-truth era, politicians invent ‘facts’ and ignore or deny the obvious, while business and the media are obsessed with marketing and consumption for the short term. What Is to Be Done is a long-awaited update on such challenges of modernity.

 

Barry Jones was a Labor member of the Victorian and Commonwealth parliaments, led the campaign to abolish the death penalty, and became Australia’s longest-serving minister for science from 1983 to 1990. His books include Sleepers, Wake!, A Thinking Reed, Dictionary of World Biography, and The Shock of Recognition. He received a Companion of the Order of Australia, Australia’s highest award, in 2014, and, at the age of 87, is a ‘living national treasure’.

Watch Barry introduce the book 

 

In the digital age, far from exploring the universal and the long term, both mainstream and social media emphasise the personal, or the tribal, in the short term. Opinion is preferenced over evidence, and feeling over rationality, while science and free enquiry are rejected or discounted. Empathy, the common good, and preserving the planet have low priority.

The planet, notoriously, has no vote.

Homo sapiens has morphed into Homo economicus, because all our politics revolves around production and consumption.

KEEP READING

 

  • Major media campaign including commercial TV appearances and radio interviews
  • Blanket review coverage including feature interviews in major newspapers and on radio
  • Advertising across literary, print, and digital media
  • National author tour including bookstore events and festivals
  • Newslink Lightwalls in Melbourne & Sydney
  • Advertisements in bookseller newsletters and catalogues

For your chance to receive an advance copy of What Is to Be Done email here.

 

 

 

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