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What Is to Be Done: political engagement and saving the planet

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A reconceptualised edition of 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 A reconceptualised edition of 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. Sleepers, Wake! Revisited is a long-awaited update on such challenges of modernity.


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A reconceptualised edition of 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 A reconceptualised edition of 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. Sleepers, Wake! Revisited is a long-awaited update on such challenges of modernity.

52 review for What Is to Be Done: political engagement and saving the planet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Muzza Mastrol

    I very much recommend this book (BTW, am using my pseudonym here). It is, as one might expect from a person who is a polymath and elected as a Fellow of four of Australia's five learned academies, learned and wide-ranging. I find the book most interesting and incisive, and very topical. Sleepers Wake previously was drier, whereas this current book tackles the phenomenon of Trump and the jettisoning of facts and critical thinking, unpacks what's wrong with the major political parties in particula I very much recommend this book (BTW, am using my pseudonym here). It is, as one might expect from a person who is a polymath and elected as a Fellow of four of Australia's five learned academies, learned and wide-ranging. I find the book most interesting and incisive, and very topical. Sleepers Wake previously was drier, whereas this current book tackles the phenomenon of Trump and the jettisoning of facts and critical thinking, unpacks what's wrong with the major political parties in particular, and ends with a list of priorities to increase political engagement and address the pivotal issues of the time. No. 1 is, of course, climate change, and others include renovating or replacing the Australian Constitution, adopting a Bill of Rights, and investing in "soft diplomacy" in the south-west Pacific. There is quite a long list of priorities that reflects his deep thinking on such issues. There are separate chapters on the science and politics of climate change, and also quite a bit about the quality of debate and the debased state of politics and engagement with it. Barry's book represents the very antithesis of Trump in that facts, critical thinking, and ethics are accorded high value. Definitely well worth reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rob O'Hearn

    How can Australia be so clever at listening to experts on Covid, but so stupid and deaf to them on climate change? In his seminal book Sleepers, Wake! (1982), Barry Jones argued that our mineral wealth had blinkered us, our industrial addiction hindering the growth of a smart high-tech economy. Barry’s bold new book is a timely update on where ‘retail politics’ and the post-truth era has led us. Our culture is muddled and resistant to truth. Policy has been seized by vested interests that are an How can Australia be so clever at listening to experts on Covid, but so stupid and deaf to them on climate change? In his seminal book Sleepers, Wake! (1982), Barry Jones argued that our mineral wealth had blinkered us, our industrial addiction hindering the growth of a smart high-tech economy. Barry’s bold new book is a timely update on where ‘retail politics’ and the post-truth era has led us. Our culture is muddled and resistant to truth. Policy has been seized by vested interests that are anti-science. To save our threatened world we must engage at all levels, in a way we never have. We cannot wait for our representatives. Cohesion and an adjustment away from our personal priorities are vital. We must join together, and engage, engage, engage! This book is illuminating and motivating. Jones never fails to convince, his intelligence is powerful. He has said before that he is obsessed with “making sense of the world to myself, and sharing those insights”. This drives him to produce masterful, inspiring and informed writing, always a contribution of value. Erudition combined with passionate, honest caring is impossible to ignore and I am certain this book will be influential. I strongly recommend this book to all thinking Australians who care about... what is to be done.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hamed

    As someone who doesn't know much about the politics of Australia, I found it very informative. Wide range of topics from the digital world and Trump phenomenon to Climate change and Corona are scholarly discussed and criticised from an Australian point of view. My favorite chapters were "Climate Change: the science", "Australian Exceptionalism", "Being Honest with Ourselves", "The Corona Revolution", "Saving the Planet" and "What is to Be Done: political engagement and climate change". Some astoni As someone who doesn't know much about the politics of Australia, I found it very informative. Wide range of topics from the digital world and Trump phenomenon to Climate change and Corona are scholarly discussed and criticised from an Australian point of view. My favorite chapters were "Climate Change: the science", "Australian Exceptionalism", "Being Honest with Ourselves", "The Corona Revolution", "Saving the Planet" and "What is to Be Done: political engagement and climate change". Some astonishing facts as mentioned in the book: - Australia has never entered into a treaty with its Indigenous people (unlike Canada, New Zealand, and even the United States) - Page 255 - "... it is important to resist the belief that Gallipoli is Australia's-that is, White Australia's-great creation myth, and that the ANZAC tragedy brought us together as a nation. Gallipoli was, in many ways, the unmaking of a nation." - page 257 -"Few Australians recognise that its House of Representatives holds the international gold medal for the shortest sittings of any national legislature." It is 67 days (average) compared to 150 days (Japan), 142-158 days (UK), 127 days (Canada), and 124-145 days (US)! -page 239 Jones argues that political engagement is extremely low and trust has been declining in the democratic system. He quotes Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing".

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janita

    Perspective! I wasn't expecting to see a new book by Barry Jones, but came across it accidentally in a bookstore. My reaction was immediately that this book must offer perspective, on important matters, and I will probably learn something...a lot even. "Sleepers, Wake!" was required reading for my Information Technology studies back in 1997, and its amazing how many details became embedded in my brain and affected my outlook for the future. Any non-fiction title with a decent bibliography is app Perspective! I wasn't expecting to see a new book by Barry Jones, but came across it accidentally in a bookstore. My reaction was immediately that this book must offer perspective, on important matters, and I will probably learn something...a lot even. "Sleepers, Wake!" was required reading for my Information Technology studies back in 1997, and its amazing how many details became embedded in my brain and affected my outlook for the future. Any non-fiction title with a decent bibliography is appealing to me, something well researched, reasoning developed with passion and explained simply enough not to lose the reader who has little in-house knowledge. This book is more user-friendly than 'Sleepers, Wake!' and is a whole lot less academic in tone. It's more personal, and I found myself marvelling at the energy and lack of jadedness Mr Jones brings to a subject that has been his life's devotion. You don't have to be interested in politics to enjoy this book. I enjoy being educated on any subject from an insiders point of view, to gain insight into how things work, and to have someone with the longevity of Barry Jones take you on that educational trip is frankly a privilege not to be missed. Of course, the closing chapters of any book written by someone aged 88 is the prize...this is where the perspective shines, the appeal to the reader becomes more beseeching. His version of 'The Gettysburg Address for 2020' in the final pages is sincere and passionate and I found myself nodding in agreement...yes, we cannot be 'part-time humans'. A very current and very satisfying read. (A final note: I loved seeing a reprint of his famous 'bowl of spaghetti' diagram re: 'Agenda for the Knowledge Nation'. I never understood what the kerfuffle was all about. It's a great diagram...love it!!)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    Almost four decades ago, Barry Jones foretold the future with his seminal book, Sleepers, Wake! Now, he is back, with new energy and insights. For those wanting to understand the confounding age in which we live, What Is To Be Done is essential reading. I hope it will galvanise the many debates we need to have if we are to shape a better future. Julia Gillard The author of this book is a genius. He irritates the hell out people of all political loyalties. He reads virtually everything that matters Almost four decades ago, Barry Jones foretold the future with his seminal book, Sleepers, Wake! Now, he is back, with new energy and insights. For those wanting to understand the confounding age in which we live, What Is To Be Done is essential reading. I hope it will galvanise the many debates we need to have if we are to shape a better future. Julia Gillard The author of this book is a genius. He irritates the hell out people of all political loyalties. He reads virtually everything that matters. In these pages we, his readers, are the beneficiaries. Forty years after his masterpiece Sleepers, Wake! he tackles the challenges of a new age: the digital world, climate change, COVID-19, and widespread political disillusionment. If any author can offer us thoughtful directions for what is to be done, it is Barry Jones. The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG Honestly critical and generous judgements from Australia’s most knowledgeable mind, about threats to our civilisation and how we can conserve the best. Ross Garnaut Read Barry’s book. No one has ever thought longer, harder, and deeper about this country. Phillip Adams The hope for this book is that the young people who read it will respond to its scientifically sound and brilliant analyses of how our society needs to change post Covid. Their health and wellbeing, as well as that of the planet, depends on citizens being informed and challenging our undemocratic political culture. Professor Fiona Stanley If anyone has written a more precise distillation of the current issues and implications of climate change, I haven’t read or heard of it. Geoff Cousins AM [Barry Jones is an] irrepressible, hugely intelligent, always insightful and utterly unique man … What Is To Be Done blends an astonishing array of scholarly research­ with insights from history, philosophy and literature, coupled with biographical reflections and anecdotes, to assemble political and policy recommend­ations that make a persuasive case for a new way forward. Troy Bramston, The Australian What Is to Be Done picks up from where Sleepers, Wake! left off. Like that seminal 1982 work, What is to be Done is a clarion call for addressing the cultural, political and environmental challenges that we face today. Happy Magazine Intellectually conceived and yet highly accessible, Barry Jones’ book is a must-read for every concerned citizen. Mary Ann Elliott, The Chronicle

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    Almost four decades ago, Barry Jones foretold the future with his seminal book, Sleepers, Wake! Now, he is back, with new energy and insights. For those wanting to understand the confounding age in which we live, What Is To Be Done is essential reading. I hope it will galvanise the many debates we need to have if we are to shape a better future. Julia Gillard The author of this book is a genius. He irritates the hell out people of all political loyalties. He reads virtually everything that matters Almost four decades ago, Barry Jones foretold the future with his seminal book, Sleepers, Wake! Now, he is back, with new energy and insights. For those wanting to understand the confounding age in which we live, What Is To Be Done is essential reading. I hope it will galvanise the many debates we need to have if we are to shape a better future. Julia Gillard The author of this book is a genius. He irritates the hell out people of all political loyalties. He reads virtually everything that matters. In these pages we, his readers, are the beneficiaries. Forty years after his masterpiece Sleepers, Wake! he tackles the challenges of a new age: the digital world, climate change, COVID-19, and widespread political disillusionment. If any author can offer us thoughtful directions for what is to be done, it is Barry Jones. The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG Honestly critical and generous judgements from Australia’s most knowledgeable mind, about threats to our civilisation and how we can conserve the best. Ross Garnaut Read Barry’s book. No one has ever thought longer, harder, and deeper about this country. Phillip Adams The hope for this book is that the young people who read it will respond to its scientifically sound and brilliant analyses of how our society needs to change post Covid. Their health and wellbeing, as well as that of the planet, depends on citizens being informed and challenging our undemocratic political culture. Professor Fiona Stanley If anyone has written a more precise distillation of the current issues and implications of climate change, I haven’t read or heard of it. Geoff Cousins AM What Is to Be Done picks up from where Sleepers, Wake! left off. Like that seminal 1982 work, What is to be Done is a clarion call for addressing the cultural, political and environmental challenges that we face today. Happy Magazine Intellectually conceived and yet highly accessible, Barry Jones’ book is a must-read for every concerned citizen. Mary Ann Elliott, The Chronicle

  7. 5 out of 5

    Wiet Pruim

  8. 5 out of 5

    Justin Taylor

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    Ron

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Johnson

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    Wayne Jones

  12. 4 out of 5

    Evan

  13. 4 out of 5

    denis hawkins

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Senior

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jasper

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bernadette Callaghan

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    Helen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris Robb

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    Adrian

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    Tim Hill

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jake Elliott

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adam Yearsley

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rob Miller

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bierman

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    Jean Poole

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sam Bonwick

  28. 4 out of 5

    Krista

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leeanncb

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gita

  31. 5 out of 5

    Tristan Layton

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    Brit McCarthy

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    Dean Arnold

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    Gillian

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    Terri

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jill Slater

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    Dave

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    Ian Hedger

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    Sammy

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    Daithí Ó Foghlú

  42. 4 out of 5

    Ana

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    Remy Webb

  44. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Chapman

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    Maha

  46. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh Murch

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    Long

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    Jonathan Wedgwood

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    Rosemary Hayward

  50. 5 out of 5

    Kangelani

  51. 5 out of 5

    Charmaine Roberts

  52. 4 out of 5

    Tony Bergen

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