You have not responded to the terms of my review, letalone offered any examples to back up your claims about academic theories that are out of touch with the reality of Australian life. This makes it impossible to assess whether your diagnosis is correct, or even what it would mean for you to be correct. To put it mildly, that is somewhat disingenuous, and perhaps even misleading.

In contrast, I haven't mislead anyone. You give me one citation of an objective secondary source by Pilger, and I'll give you a multitude of his anecdotal evidence in reply. The ratio is clearly disproportionate, so I'm sticking with my original characterisation. Besides, going to speak to the people themselves, as you put it, is hardly the exclusive preserve of journalists: there is a reason the "social sciences" are named as such (i.e. the basis of ethnography). When I speak about anecdotes, this has more to do with Pilger's habit of inserting himself into the narrative as the basis of authority, which would be fine, were it reflexive enough to acknowledge the interpretation is mediated by theoretical frameworks. Hence, I don't say there is no space for journalists, but just question how and why they are so often able to dominate public discussions of social issues. It is a classic tactic of journalists to say they are just getting at the facts, so their practices need never be examined: but surely no democracy worth its salt can afford to shield the Fourth Estate by not holding it to account, right? Democracy has to go "all the way down". I don't trust in an author's personal integrity, until it is reinscribed in larger frameworks of meaning. This is the "practical reality" you appear oblivious to: we need theory so we can have a set of prospective ideals to work towards, as reality/practice can sometimes fall short of our required standards. Those who don't understand this point won't be able to appreciate why someone like Jurgen Habermas is both an academic and a public intellectual, who writes newspaper columns and contributes to various popular periodicals.

So I'm more optimistic about the possibility of straddling the divide you attempt to police between the academy and the popular press. Indeed, many Australian scholars have in effect done the same thing as this German thinker, by choosing to reason in public. Think of authors such as Humphrey McQueen, Manning Clark, Anne Summers and Donald Horne (The Lucky Country was a bestseller in Australia). And then there's the fact that sociologist Michael Pusey's term "economic rationalism" (which is conceptually inspired by Habermas), has entered into the everyday Australian lexicon. This suggests to me that the public is mature, they can decide for themselves- they don't need to be chaperoned like children by John Pilger on the assumption that theory and facts are too difficult to read in combination, in the manner which you prescribe.

Further to this point, you may have noticed that I'm also interested in the process of globalisation, which requires plenty of facts to benchmark how un-even development is and what causes it, if there is to be any chance of formulating a constructive response. Consider, for example, Pilger's failure to contextualise Australian industrial democracy in such relative terms. He discusses Prime Minister Hawke's government with reference only to the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. But in so doing, he downplays the significant role played by The Accord in moderating the excesses of economic reform. This point could have been clarified in a global context, by contrasting the Australian experience with, say, Britain's Thatcherite Revolution from around the same period, or New Zealand's disastrous experiment with "Rogernomics". While hardly perfect by any means, Australia served as a sanctuary for the waves of economic migrants from these countries, who were fleeing draconian policies that didn't offer much in the way of safety nets for workers. More recently, it was Prime Minister John Howard who attempted to break the historic compromise, with his introduction of the so-called "Work Choices" [sic] legislation, but thankfully, this proved the unmaking of his government.

In other words, Pilger simply fails to convey any sense of the value of The Accord as a bulwark against the rise of neoliberalism. He instead confines his discussion [sic] of Australia's democratic achievements to one paragraph at the beginning of the book, with reference only to events way back in the historical record, such as the invention of the secret ballot. Therefore it is Pilger who can fittingly be described as "somewhat misleading"- not me.

If you had taken the time then to read the titles I cited before posting your response, you would have found an enormous amount of empirical evidence, (including statistics, in How Australia Compares), to contextualise the claims of the respective authors. Moreover, the arguments are presented in a very accessible fashion and have thus not alienated the non-academic reader; witness their ready availability in popular bookstores and public libraries in my country, as well as the willingness of some journalists to draw on them as source material. I applaud THOSE journalists, because here we have a clear realisation of Habermas' ideal of "the public sphere", in which academia and journalism alike become more democratic, relevant, and accurate. Pilger's self-legislating approach is clearly limited in comparison.

In any case, I should also mention that Pilger's book is rather old now, so his empirical work, such as it is, could benefit from some updating if it is to continue to inform discussion of contemporary Australian social issues.