Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell

Michael Leunig, The Lot (2008)

Michael Leunig was for several decades a resident cartoonist at The Age newspaper in Melbourne.  His collection of essays, The Lot (2008), all originally appeared in The Age.  In these essays, he presents his views on Australia and the state of the world. 

Michael Leunig, who was born in 1945, is part of the ‘baby boomer’ generation that came of age during the 1960s.  Leunig absorbed the salient radical left-wing politics of that era, which has shaped his work and opinions ever since.  In his essays, he presents attitudes previously understood as pertaining to the New Left and hippy counter-culture, which could later be classified as reflecting the ideology of the politically correct Left.  

Leunig’s cartoons, writings and commentary express and promote most of the views favoured by the politically correct Left in Australian politics.  At the core of his beliefs is a left-wing libertarian individualism influenced by egalitarianism, Marxism and anarchism.  His views also reflect non-conformist attitudes and existentialist perspectives consistent with the New Left and hippy counter-culture.  Essentially, Leunig resents the routine and regimentation of mainstream society and the conventional world of work, believing that this crushes one’s true self.  Instead, he advocates experimentation, curiosity, indulging one’s senses and feelings, and following one’s whims. This attitude also puts great kudos in vehemently defending one’s lifestyle against pressures to change or conform. 

Leunig’s views also encompass pacifism, anti-racism, environmentalism, anti-Americanism and distaste for traditional notions of the Australian identity and Australian nationalism.  He also has critical attitudes towards capitalism, corporate wealth, and the consumer culture, and a negative disposition towards Western Civilisation in general.  However, Leunig would probably see himself and his views as humanitarian. 

Consistent with these attitudes is Leunig’s anti-establishment posturing. He seems to see himself as a political gadfly who stings others to goad them into changing their minds on the causes he holds dear. 

Leunig’s essays seem as if they were meant to appear to be thoughtful, sensitive, quirky, and morally principled.  He likes to use anecdotes chosen from his life, or from current events, and milk them for what he perceives to be their philosophical implications. He then likes to connect these anecdotes in surprising ways in order to make further philosophical points and to articulate his favourite themes drawn from the ideology of the politically correct Left.

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

© Mark Lopez 2021 All RIGHTS RESERVED

The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business.) 

Subject: The Lot meaning, The Lot themes, The Lot analysis, The Lot notes