Saturday Seminar – What is to be done: Political engagement and saving the planet

Tutor/Facilitator Barry Jones

Date: on/from Sat 24 Apr 2021 to Sat 24 April 2021
Frequency: Single Event
Class time: 2:30-3:30

Delivered ZOOM

Other information

Presented by Barry Jones AC

Facilitated by Marcel Colman, U3APP tutor, Current Affairs

The artist Louise Hearman gives permission for this painting to be included in publicity for a talk given by Barry jones on 24th April 2021

Barry Jones’ Sleepers, Wake! (1982), which predicted the post-industrial economy and the information revolution, became a best seller and had an international influence.

In What Is To Be Done (2020), he examines how some elements in the information revolution have had unexpected, negative effects which pose an existential threat to liberal democracy. More than 5 billion people have access to the Internet, our hand-held devices have more power than the massive computers that directed the first moon landing, and there has been an exponential increase in access to university education. Nevertheless, democracy is in crisis in an era of “retail politics”, our political processes have become secretive and corrupted, the WWW has become a powerful vector of “misinformation”, with appeals to fear and anger, and our part-time parliaments rarely debate serious issues. Feeling has displaced evidence, people choose their own truth, but withdraw from serious political engagement.

The Trump phenomenon demonstrated this powerfully and while he lost the 2020 election, 47 per cent of Americans voted for authoritarian democracy.

Barry Jones argues that of Australia’s 15 million voters, barely 30,000 (0.2 per cent) are actively involved in political parties. Australia handled the COVID crisis well, relying on evidence; and climate change very badly, rejecting evidence.

What is to be done? The answer, Barry Jones insists, is in higher levels of political engagement. Are you/we up to it?

As a member for the Victorian and Commonwealth parliaments, Barry Jones led the campaign to abolish the death penalty and became Australia’s longest serving minister for science. He received a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2014 and is a “living national treasure”.



This seminar is open to all U3A Port Phillip members and subscribers and to the general public.

As there are limited numbers, please book in below.

This is an online live seminar, presented as a webinar on Zoom.

If you have not yet used Zoom, you will need to download Zoom onto your device in advance- click here for instructions.

To watch the seminar,  click here to join the webinar from 2:20pm for a prompt 2:30pm start.

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