Category Archives: Democracy

A nation of barrackers

Australian politics has become a battleground where warriors loyal to death raise their political colours to support their chosen party or ideology. The battlelines have been drawn according to political party, or just simple left/right divisions.

This might be a jolly bit of fun if it were merely sporting teams involved, and the real future of Australia as a nation weren’t at stake.

The political discourse lacks nuance, intelligence and informed judgement. Evidence-based policy with a clearly articulated goal has been trampled for populist uninformed initiatives. Shooting sharks, for crying out loud! The treachery dispensed to asylum seekers has no basis in law or policy.

Long-term initiatives to address the challenges of the future, climate change being the most pressing, are ignored in favour of short-term [again] populist actions. Where is our 10/50/100/500 year plan? What do we see for this nation in 200 years’ time? 20 years?

Who does this serve? Certainly not democracy. And that is why I’m deeply concerned by this new phenomenon of political barracking. Democracy is only served when citizens are informed and able to discriminate between self interest and community interest; between short-term outcomes vs long-term benefits. In most cases, a coherent analysis is needed to understand the purpose and impacts of government policy. Only an educated population can do that. Not just educated in vocational and professional skills and knowledge, but also as citizens. As citizens in a democracy we all have the right to protest and make our views known. Genuine civil disobedience is a democratic right, even though there may be judicial consequences. Many a protestor who has been able to demonstrate their actions were of concern for the public good have been acquitted.

Where there is a vacuum it will be filled, and when democracy starts to fail, those with power that would otherwise be contained will fill that void.


Make democracy stronger not weaker

The horrorshow that is the Abbott government is undermining the reputation of democracy itself. And the Liberal/Labor parties too.

A constant stream of lies is touted as truth. Over and over again.

Stupid antics by Abbott as opposition leader and now as PM degrade the position of PM to – what? – class clown? Minister after minister demonstrates a complete lack of policy and consistency of logic. And so on and on and on…

Meanwhile childish revenge is waged against any and every fundamental pillar of Australian society that may have a whiff of Labor or Greens. What’s best for the Australian people in general and Australia as a whole is irrelevant. We are nothing but grist for the corporate mill. Not corporate in general, but corporate mates – fossil fuels in particular.

Right wing commentators are already saying that democracy is broken; it doesn’t work. This is the very worst outcome possible. And there’s every chance it has been orchestrated. Via the US Tea Party at whose feet the IPA and Liberals worship. The Liberals have been the [initially, at least] unwitting Trojan Horse of the extreme right wing ideology; an ideology that is actively putting in place systemic barriers to poor and middle class people voting. And that prevents citizen engagement in our community and politics as is required by a healthy democracy.

Those leading the campaign against democracy are deliberately undermining our confidence and faith how our democracy works.

Many young people do not register to vote – they don’t see why they should.

While we have some idea how rule of law protects us from violent person-on-person crime like murder and robbery; but few of us realise how much we are protected from exploitation and oppression by our democratic system.

The extreme paranoid right-wing ideology imported from the US that presents government as the enemy fails to mention that, without government, we would be weak and without any means of resisting oppression by the most evil forces that have no desire but to exploit and harm us.

Let there be no mistake: when democracy is weakened a power vacuum opens up and the psychopaths swarm in. They have already infiltrated government (Liberal and Labor). Without actively strengthening our institutions and functions of democracy, we are in very grave danger as an egalitarian and free society.  Democracy is our best and only protector, whether it’s socialist or capitalist is irrelevant. We must work to make it better and stronger, and make governments far more accountable.

Not “Not in My Name”

This morning I signed a petition to close Manus Island detention centre.

There was no way I wasn’t going to sign.

But I passionately disagree with the “not in my name” slogan.

My reasons are somewhat inchoate, but I’ll do my best to express my rejection of this approach.

We are, all of us, the Australian community. Together. Even if we don’t agree with each other. It’s clear there are members of the community who believe it’s absolutely fine to lock up the most vulnerable in inhumane conditions. Accepting or changing that view is the responsibility of all of us. We cannot walk away from that or pretend these people are not part of the body politic in this country.

We are ALL responsible for the government we elect. Democracy is not a spectator sport (although it is currently being played out that way). Voting is the most passive aspect of democracy and being compulsory doesn’t just attract those who are passionate or even interested. Some are positively disgruntled at being forced to vote. And punish the rest of us. Democracy is an ongoing involvement in the debate and its progress. It is about engagement in your community, how it develops, the decisions it makes, the ideas that are being considered and debated.

The “not in my name” slogan is an attempt to disown the decisions made by government. This is pure hubris, and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the functions of government and the role of democracy. It seems, in fact, rather childish. Petulant even. Elitist – “that’s a Western Sydney policy, not for my educated, middle-class sensibilities”.

If we really don’t like the way government spends our taxes (in a kazillion different ways), then conduct a civil disobedience exercise by going on a tax strike. Certainly peace protestors have attempted this in order to not fund the defence forces.