Celebrating Peter Coleman

Christopher Pearson on Peter Coleman in the Spectator:

Although Peter Coleman is undoubtedly the grandfather of Australian conservatism, like so many of us he started his adult life as a man of the Left. His latest collection of essays, The Last Intellectuals, contains a sharp, funny and sometimes stern series of meditations on a career spent in the domestic and international culture wars.

He asks: ‘Am I really that raw youth of 17 who in 1946 co-edited with a communist friend a magazine called Left Forum for the communist-dominated Labour Club at Sydney University (and tried to liven it up with jokes)? I have absolutely zero memory of the episode… And am I also that 21-year-old who in 1950 debated the Menzies government’s plan to ban the Communist party with my friend, the late David Stove? By this time I was loudly denouncing both the Communist party and those Liberals who wanted to ban it. I have a better memory of this great affair because I can distantly hear my own voice, however confused.’

The point is, as he says: ‘It takes you a while to sort yourself out.’ Just how long was the subject of a rueful autobiography, Memoirs of a Slow Learner. Coleman’s learning curve encompassed journalism and editing two influential weeklies, the Observer and the Bulletin. After a long stint in the New South Wales Parliament and a brief but memorable ministerial career, he served for a while in the Federal Parliament. For 20 years he also edited Quadrant, Australia’s major conservative monthly.

Read the essay at the Spectator 

Buy Peter Coleman’s The Last Intellectuals here…

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