"You might try to cheer me by saying such people see things more gloomily than the rest of us, but up bobs Prof Robert Manne, voted our Most Influential Public Intellectual.
Sure, Manne is as convinced as Marr that "debate is presently under threat", but he's also quick to hail a kinder, gentler, more moral society when he's told of one.
Hear barking Manne start to coo when he describes not our own foul society, but the "enchanted world" of Aborigines before whites came: "(Anthropologists have) discovered a world that was filled with economic purpose; leavened by playfulness, joy and humour; soaked in magic, sorcery, mystery and ritual; pregnant at every moment with deep and unquestioned meaning."
But still I worry: How could our top intellectual so praise a society in which the strong ruled the weak, infanticide was common, death rates by warfare horrific, life expectancy low and bashing of women - as measured by the fractured skulls since found - astonishingly high?
Is it me? Or is upside now down? Inside out?"