2005: What is to be Done?

Come together. Adelaide comes together between 7 and 1O July, as it has been doing for much of its history, for a bout of collective moral improvement. For the fourth Adelaide Festival of Ideas we make a virtue of this legacy of Wakefield, with the theme of  ‘What is to be done?’

Ours is a disconcerting age. We have fulfilled the hope that Keynes thought possible for his grandchildren, of incomes far beyond that required to meet our needs, but we are in the midst of an orgy for fripperies, which we work ceaselessly to afford. We are beset by perils, many of them imagined. Choose your ribbon colour, be it green (global warming), red (war), grey (ageing), or black (pandemic disease). Our moral compass is awry: it lacks a magnetic pole, and we lack a vision of how to be good.

All of this might be met with the familiar refrain that Adelaide people are a bunch of wowsers who love nothing better than a talkfest.

Well, phooey to that. Other people come from cities born without a plan. They do not have politicians whose credo is to ‘Go where you can get your work done for the causes of the good.’ We believe we can, and should, design our own world. The sessions for this Festival are consciously about putting ideas into action.

This civic spirit is encapsulated by the Festival of Ideas, now part of the rhythm of Adelaide. It is an event much admired, sometimes copied, rarely bettered.