Human Rights and Public Life
To use the words of Gough Whitlam, this program is designed to apply the intellect to human affairs, to ensure that ideas and intellectual debate contribute to contemporary political life and action. It is oriented by the core value that guided Whitlam’s political vision and practice, equality, and by the conviction that this is a political value that has to be secured and safeguarded by an autonomous political community.
Specifically, the program is oriented to intellectual enquiry of a kind that can stimulate public conversation and discussion about the large political questions of our time.
The questions that guide this particular program are:
- What is the idea of citizenship that best responds to the challenge of our times, and how is it to work with the idea of human rights?
- How to renew the idea of government as the public authority? What is the basis of public authority, and in what ways should private agents be held accountable to it?
- Political community and sovereignty are national in character, even in context of the different institutional orders of global governance: - The question is how should national political communities (states) work with global governance institutions in ways that enhance the effective public capacity of both?
- How is the language of economics used as a language of political argument, and how can it be held to account as such?
This program is anchored in the practical politics of contemporary Australia as this relates to global patterns of political thought and action. It is committed to bringing political thought into connection with the challenges of this practical politics. It assumes that new problems may need new solutions but that there are also tried and tested ways of engaging in political action and of building political institutions from which we can learn. Finally, it is committed to the sovereignty of the Australian political community and state, and to enquiry as to how this sovereignty is to be practiced at this time if it is to be effective.
Activities associated with the program:
1. 2012 (August 27-29) Workshop: The politics of citizenship in the era of human rights: an international research workshop
2. 2013 (August 12-14) Workshop: The state as the public authority in the era of globalization
3. Political Thought for the 21st Century – an occasional seminar series
4. The visit of Professor Margaret Wilson (DCNZM) to the Whitlam Institute for August 2012, and August 2013
5. Research publications of Anna Yeatman in the areas of civil philosophy, human rights and citizenship, and a critique of the neo-liberal political agenda.