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Was Brexit really democracy in action? (#ItsTime)

Over thirty-three millions Brits exercised their democratic right to have a say in whether Britain should remain in the EU or leave last Thursday.

But did they?

Was the Brexit vote democracy in action – or politics at its worst?

Democracy is a serious business

Democracy is a serious business – as the people of the UK were reminded last week. About eight hours after the polls in Britain had closed, Google reported that British searches for ‘what happens if we leave the EU’ had more than tripled as many ‘Leave’ voters started to come to terms with the implications of what they had done. The next day a number of ‘Leave’ voters expressed “voters’ bregret” at their decision to leave the UK – with one voter saying:

“I was really disappointed about the results. Even though I voted to Leave – this morning I woke up and the reality did actually hit me.”

A few days later, and many ‘Leave’ voters were only just starting to feel outrage as they realised that they had made a serious decision about Britain’s future on the basis of promises made to them prior to the referendum. Promises such as increased funding to healthcare and greater controls on immigration – which in the stark light of post-election reality were turning out to be nothing more than election fluffery.

Democracy is a serious business. The outcomes of our democratic input have an impact on pretty much every aspect of our life – from healthcare, who we can marry, education, where we can live, how much money we have to spend right through to our food supplies, our water supplies and what happens to our environment.

ScareCampaign

By @FirstDogOnMoon in The Guardian (gu.com/p/4m82y/stw)

And yet our politicians treat us with disdain

Democracy is a serious business – and yet our politicians treat us with disdain. They lie to us, try to scare us into believing Armageddon is around the corner and that they alone can save us. They insist that their access to information about us must be unfettered and unrestricted while at the same time working seriously hard to limit our access to information about what they are doing.

In other words – truth and access to accurate relevant information are in short supply in many western democracies today. This situation is not helped by the fact that our media is under serious threat on a number of fronts including surviving both the digital age and the influence of wealthy owners, investors and advertisers.

“Information is the currency of Democracy” (Thomas Jefferson)

In a democracy every person’s vote – their decision about an issue – is equal. But people can only be truly free to make a decision – any decision – when they are given accurate information about that decision.

FirstDogFreedomFromTruth

By @FirstDogOnMoon in The Guardian (gu.com/p/4m82y/stw)

We recognise the importance of having accurate information as consumers. If you go into a store and a sales person sells you an item by making inaccurate representations about what that item can do, our laws protect you. If a company advertises a product and makes misleading claims about that product, our laws protect you. If you go into the supermarket there are laws which require food manufacturers to give you information about the food you are buying so that you can make an informed choice.

In the overall scheme of things, these are relatively minor decisions – and yet we believe they are important enough to have laws which enable us to make an informed choice.

When we exercise our democratic right to vote however – our democratic right to have a say in how our country is run – this is without a doubt one of the most important decisions we make. And yet our politicians ask us to make that decision in a fact-free fear-filled zone.

The very real problem with voters being asked to make decisions in a fact-free zone is that information is democracy’s life blood. Without it, true democracy cannot exist.

The Brexit campaign – informed choice or…?

FaragePosterEdit

‘Leave’ advocate Nigel Farage in front of his favourite fear campaign

Just look at what happened recently with Brexit. On one side the Brits had ‘Leave’ advocates telling citizens they would be overrun by Syrian refugees if they didn’t leave the EU – and that leaving the EU would mean the government could provide an extra 350 million pounds for Britain’s health care system every month. And on the other side, ‘Remain’ advocates ran a campaign described by some commentators and perceived by many voters as being ‘Project Fear’.

What was clearly missing from the whole decision making process was a factual trustworthy analysis of BOTH options. How do we know that this didn’t exist? Because now that the decision for Britain to exit the EU has been made, nobody has an actual clue about what a post-Brexit Britain will look like. British voters were literally asked to vote between the status quo and an undefined politically-manufactured future.

By way of analogy, imagine you were asked to make the following decision:

  1. Keep your current car – which still goes, but has sporadic problems and has to keep going to the mechanic for repairs; or
  2. Get another unseen car without knowing the car’s make, model, year, features and with no guarantee that the car will work better than your current car, or even work at all – but which you are promised by the salesperson will likely save you money and keep you safe from terrorists.

A sensible consumer would be skeptical about the second option and ask for more information before making a decision. And yet Brits were asked to make a serious decision about the future of their country without any real idea of what the ‘Leave’ option really entailed.

That’s not a democratic choice – it’s political fluffery pure and simple.

The Brits aren’t the only ones being fluffed

In the US, Donald Trump is the poster boy for political fluffery – ramping up the rhetoric, the lies and fear campaigns to levels that beggar belief.

In Australia, as we stare down a Federal Election this coming weekend, the lies, the scare campaigns and the frightening political hyperbole are so bad, it’s become nearly impossible to watch. Even a political tragic like myself can no longer listen to the same old catchphrases and fright-inducers that are being rolled out again and again and again. And again.

What’s the answer? It’s time we reclaim our democracy.

In the words of Alan Moore:

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

Seriously – it’s time we tell our pollies that enough is bloody well enough. As I wrote a few weeks back, our politicians are still living by rules of conduct from the Middle Ages – rules which allow them to behave like spoilt toddlers and lie with impunity.

It’s time we tell our politicians to come out of the Middle Ages and live in the 21st century. It’s time they lived by the same standards of conduct that the rest of us have to. It’s time we all agree that this needs to change – and make our politicians listen to us.

To quote from my previous article:

“There is a ground swell globally of people who are sick of politicians. Sick of being lied to. Sick of politicians creating greater inequality instead of greater equality. The answer isn’t electing people like Donald Trump – who pretend that they are different from those currently in power. It’s in demanding higher standards of our pollies.”

An uninformed vote is not a democratic one

Simply giving people a ‘vote’ is NOT democracy if you’re not giving them the information they need to make an informed choice regarding what they are voting about.

If politicians in Britain had been required by law to present an accurate picture of what the options for Brexit were – to apply the same standards we require of companies advertising their products – would the outcome of last week’s referendum have been the same? We’ll never know. But at least the Brits would have had the opportunity to make a truly democratic decision.

#ItsTime

It’s time we stopped accepting this antiquted outdated behaviour from our politicians people. #ItsTime.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

 258 total views,  2 views today

58 comments

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  1. Athena

    So it was ok to go into the EU without knowing exactly what effect it would have, but it’s not ok to leave it like that? If the Greeks, Portuguese, Finns and other nations that are doing badly in the EU had known what was going to happen to them, do you think they would have joined? Do you not see that all the powerful people claiming that Britain has made the wrong choice is just more spin and fear mongering?

    There will always be people voting who don’t actually take an interest in politics or who don’t care about the outcome. We can’t stop that. There will always be people incapable of critical thinking. There will always be people who simply cannot switch off from the crap that politicians try to sell us and stop listening to it. It’s still a democracy and I’d rather be allowed to have my vote than have someone else make the decisions for me, even when my vote is not in the majority.

    The reasons given for leaving are disturbing, but the leaving shouldn’t be. I hope that Brexit is the start of a worldwide movement of progressives taking power back from the neo-cons who want to control us and keep us down.

    Why the Leave victory is a great outcome

  2. mark delmege

    I see Corbyn had 10,000 rally to support him outside Parliament while the party hacks – inside – try to sack him.

  3. wam

    if democracy is more than 50% then our senate is democrassy. Had a good laugh at the suggestion brexit was progressive. Then perhaps I might have misunderstood farage. Boris fits the progressive better. He lead london, next britain then the world or was that peter sellers?

  4. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Athena.

    … and great to hear Corbyn has such undeniable grassroots support. Hopefully Corbyn can put some true progressive blood into his frontline since the neoliberal hacks are resigning. Good riddance.

  5. king1394

    Considering that most Australians have had around 10 years of school education, and can read, I think it might be good to emphasise to people that they also have an obligation to find out about things that are going to affect their own lives. I get very annoyed about the desire to remain ignorant that is seen in many people. We have more sources of information now than ever, yet I think the average person is choosing ignorance. It doesn’t matter whether the attitude arises from a sense of helplessness: I can’t change things or from cynicism: all politicians are liars/only in it for the money. In some ways, I think the latter attitude is more dangerous.

  6. jantonius

    The Brexit win as ‘progressives’ taking back power?
    No Athena, that is very wrong.
    Boris Johnson, the main ‘progressive’ proponent of Brexit, and the biggest winner, has just announced what was strongly suspected all along – that he’s not really that much for Brexit after all.
    He seems to have been stuck with a win he was not expecting; as a glorious close defeat would have served his purpose: to undermine Cameron and soon enough take over as Conservative PM.
    By Johnson’s comments it will be sometime before the Brexit comes to be. He’s talking about the maintenance of all sorts of things – free trade and travel and residency rights – that the membership of EU brought about and guaranteed.
    It still needs the voting approval of Parliament. A Parliament that includes 59 Scottish MPs (out of 650) – who will oppose it bitterly.
    Regrexit is in full swing.

    Maybe this country is in for a similar response after Saturday; with the Senate a rancorous and unreliable mix showing what judgement Turnbull had in calling a DD.
    The game will be on to protect employee’s rights – if anyone remembers the ostensible reason for the DD.
    Turnbull has already ticked off ‘Become PM’ from his shopping list of things to do; and he gives no indication of being that enthusiastic for the fight.
    Will the MSM be able to normalise the further attack on employee’s rights? They could not quite manage it with Workchoices. Watch the ABC squirm its wretched way through the cranked-up anti-Union hyperbole.

  7. jantonius

    employees’ rights, not ’employee’s rights’

  8. jimhaz

    [I hope that Brexit is the start of a worldwide movement of progressives taking power back from the neo-cons who want to control us and keep us down]

    So do I, however there are two problems:

    a) Those who voted for the exit are not progressive. They were country boroughs with higher percentages of white folk – more likely to be conservative and less likely to have a vested interest as was the case with many London boroughs with high born overseas stats.

    b) Those who promoted BREXIT are not progressive.

    c) Those who will lead afterwards are not progressive

    Progressives can take no ownership of this event – most don’t want to as they are in love with the dream of one world government for their ideals of worldwide equality. This was a case of the conservative voter base voting against the outcomes of their past conservative voting.

    The love of progressives for immigration makes them their own worst enemy. It puts them on the same side as those who they fight against.

    The ALP could have won the current election simply by saying they would cut immigration in half over 4 years.

  9. Kate M

    Cool your jets Athena. My article was NOT about whether Brexit was the RIGHT decision or not. NOR was it about any previous decisions about whether Britain is in the EU. NOR was it suggesting that we take away people’s democratic right to vote!!!

    If you had read it even half of the way through you would have seen that it is about the process that was followed in Brexit as an example of the lack of information and misinformation that surround many so-called democratic decisions in many Western Democracies.

  10. Kate M

    King – I agree that Australians should do their own research. But I don’t think that should allow our politicians to lie and mislead the public. At a bare minimum, our politicians should have to live by the same standards of truth that any of us do if we make representations to the public.

  11. kizhmet

    Kate M – I agree with every word in your article. The reality, however, remains that truth is a matter of perspective. My “truth” is not necessarily the same as yours.

    I am opposed to the EU for any number of reasons, least of which are the utterly deplorable austerity measures inflicted on Greece, Italy and Spain; none of which are based on racist, isolationism. Whether Britain’s exit from the EU will ultimately proceed, and be the right move, remains to be seen. We do not have precedents on which to draw to make reasoned inferences. I suspect other countries will follow. The EU will need to adapt and change or disintegrate.

    As for Johnson trying to take his time – the EU is flexing its muscles getting ready to play hardball. It will not be kind to Britain or allow Britain any leeway. Punishment, making an example of Britain is what I see on the cards.

    As Jantonius’ points out – parliamentary approval is required yet. Is it to too much to hope/expect British parliament enters into that debate better informed than the general public?

    I have been speaking to all manner of people about our coming election. I know caring, intelligent, rational people who will be voting Liberal – yes they fit the self-funded retirees, own their own home demographic. My age group if not financial status (lucky them!). Despite my best efforts to understand why, I have concluded I just don’t get it. And probably never will. I am hanging my hopes on the younger generation who are more progressively inspired.

    I read SMH comments sections. I do detect a subtle but discernible difference from those leaving comments there. More criticism of LNP, more positive commentary about Labor. Whether that translates into votes we will know this weekend.

    Thank you for a great article Kate M. Keep ’em coming 🙂

  12. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Kate M – I agree with you wholeheartedly. The false promises and lies that were made, and now being recanted, were sickening. It, like so many other elections, are purely con jobs. Once you’ve won, you have the mandate to do whatever you want. For example, whilst none of the MSM is really drawing attention to it, if the Libs win, all the measures that haven’t got passed in the 2014 and 2015 budgets will be back on the table, and Morrison will proclaim this is the peoples want because it was in the 2016 budget which IS the wonderful economic plan.

    Deception by omission.

  13. Athena

    Jimhaz, where did I say that the people who voted for Brexit are progressive?

  14. Athena

    “If you had read it all the way through you would have seen that it is about the process that was followed in Brexit as an example of the lack of transparency in many Western Democracies.

    Perhaps you should take the time to read it properly before jumping up and down about it saying something that it isn’t actually saying.”

    Kate, I did read your article all the way through the end and I did read it properly. I disagree with your questioning of democratic process. Everyone had the right to choose for themselves. There’s no such thing as a completely honest election and there never will be. Even if all interested parties could be 100% honest, and all the voters were interested enough to pay attention, there is no guarantee that the voters even completely understand all the issues. That’s part of the joy of a democratic election. People who vote and don’t expect their vote to count are dumbflucks, pure and simple. There’s little hope for such blatant stupidity. It’s also impossible to know everything that will happen after Brexit. It’s a complex issue. How can anyone possibly know everything that will happen? There will always be people who panic and think that the world is coming to an end. No matter how solid the exit plan, there will always be people who disagree. There will always be unforeseen problems.

    FWIW, I do agree with this statement “Seriously – it’s time we tell our pollies that enough is bloody well enough.” I’ve been doing that for years. The trouble is, there are still lots of people with the view that we should vote for second worst to get rid of worst and then try telling second worst what we want later.

  15. Athena

    “The reality, however, remains that truth is a matter of perspective. My “truth” is not necessarily the same as yours.

    I am opposed to the EU for any number of reasons, least of which are the utterly deplorable austerity measures inflicted on Greece, Italy and Spain; none of which are based on racist, isolationism. Whether Britain’s exit from the EU will ultimately proceed, and be the right move, remains to be seen. We do not have precedents on which to draw to make reasoned inferences. I suspect other countries will follow. The EU will need to adapt and change or disintegrate.”

    Agreed, kizhmet.

    ” Is it to too much to hope/expect British parliament enters into that debate better informed than the general public?”

    It would be good if they could be more informed, but I won’t hold my breath waiting. It’s also probably too much to expect that most British voters have learned a valuable lesson from this experience too, unfortunately.

  16. Athena

    ” if the Libs win, all the measures that haven’t got passed in the 2014 and 2015 budgets will be back on the table, and Morrison will proclaim this is the peoples want because it was in the 2016 budget which IS the wonderful economic plan.

    Deception by omission.”

    Well, not entirely. Those of us who follow politics know what the Liberal Party wants to do. They showed us at each budget. The problem is the voters who only tune in during an election campaign. Their opponents need to take that into account and remind voters of all that the Liberal Party wants to do.

  17. Lawriejay

    The United Kingdom a Euphemism for We’ll for ever walk alone??

    Lawriejay

  18. Paul Dawson

    So politicians should be required to provide voters with all the necessary information to make an informed choice? Very idealistic and commendable viewpoint but totally laughable – this is the real world – politicians lie and deceive to attain their ends – and lie about what precisely those ends are. It was ever thus. The onus lies on the voters to educate themselves – surely an easier task now than in years previously, given the enormous amount of information available. Oh, but wait – Australia has a functional illiteracy rate of approx. 48% – so the main avenue of information available to most is that of the mass media – preferably with pictures , or via radio. Thus complex issues are reduced to slogans which fit into a nice ten second sound bite. And that’s it! This is how the majority of the populace receive their information – and it suits the pollies very well – and their masters. Don’t believe for a moment that politicians actually exercise power – save that allowed them by the oligarchs and bankers and multinationals who actually run things.

    With regard to Brexit, the information made available to voters was on a par with that made available at any general election – so to say that the vote was uninformed, is tantamount to saying that all voting is uninformed. So if you don’t like the result of the next election just get up a petition to have it run again until you get the result you want/require.

    The Brexit vote is as valid as any other “democratic” vote.

    I believe the reason behind the result was a dawning realisation by the common people that their lives are being controlled by unelected powerful pressure groups.

    So the market took a tumble – i.e. lots of rich people suddenly realised they’d made the wrong bet – because the stock market is simply the biggest casino in the world.

  19. mark delmege

    Well put Paul. And the Guardian and other establishment organs are running emotional articles on how old England has changed forever. As if the old order was worth preserving – what with the reductions of sovereignty inherent in the EU and TTIP, NATO wars and the killing of Muslims proxie armies and invasions, and neoliberalism and economies that enrich the 1%. Thats what these emotional pieces are actually saying. These articles like all propaganda use emotionalism to hide the truth of what is really happening. They show no intelligence and no leadership in what is possible ahead. They want the old order. They serve the 1% and are part of the establishments wish to override and nullify the democratic vote and to ensure the English people remain subservient to the needs of empire. Why Empire? because the EU was made in Washington (and Langley) to serve the interests of multinational capitalism and not the people of Europe.

  20. Cam Moore

    The incorrect assumption in the article being that the majority of people voted for the outcome that your not happy with purely based on the one issue you mention.

  21. Kate M

    No. My article was not about the outcome – it was about the process, and whether it was democratic. I have written about this before – and I shall undoubtedly write about it again. So No Cam – I did not write the article because “I’m not happy about the outcome”. You’re the one who is jumping to assumptions.

    And if you all think we should put up with politicians lying – and not make changes to require them to live by the same rules that we do – then it’s no bloody wonder they get away with it. You are as much a part of the problem as they are. The only reason politicians get away with lies, fear campaigns and manipulations is because people accept that this is Ok, that it is the status quo – that there’s nothing we can do to change it.

    That’s just pure and utter bullshit.

    We can change whatever the bloody hell we want. That’s the way a democracy should work. If the majority of people think something sucks, they change it. And as far as I can tell – a majority of people think that politicians lying, scaremongering and behaving live five year olds is not OK. The majority of people think is unacceptable. But politicians won’t change until WE demand it of them.

    Calling something ‘idealistic’ is just a lazy person’s excuse for doing nothing about it. There’s nothing idealistic about expecting politicians to have to face consequences if they mislead the public or lie to us to get us to ‘buy’ what they are selling – we all have to live by these rules. So should they.

    So next time you want to complain about our politicians from your armchair – but still accept it as the ‘status quo’ – just remember, you’re a part of the bloody problem.

  22. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Kate M. We need the politicians to know we know and we hold them accountable.

  23. Athena

    Lying isn’t acceptable. I think Brexit was a bad example to use because the exit from the EU has the potential to be good, as Bill Mitchell explained in his article (link above). It has created an opportunity for implementation of progressive policy that wouldn’t be possible with Bremain. It’s a shame that some of the reasons used to justify the decision were misguided or even wrong, and the current ringleaders don’t really have a plan.

    As for the lying, we the voters have allowed it. We the voters keep on voting for liars. We the voters lack the intestinal fortitude to vote for what we want. Instead we vote for second worst when we know they lie. We the voters need to accept responsibility for our actions.

  24. jantonius

    Athena,
    Do you seriously think that Brexit carries any rational hope for reform towards greater equity in Britain?
    Look at the major proponents.
    It was not misguided reasons, it was outright lies. Farage and Johnson are liars. Farage is a rabble-rousing populist; an articulate Pauline Hanson, with worse ulterior motives.

    Perhaps Johnson is canny enough to put himself across as comparatively the more reasonable face of Brexit. He’s going to need a stream of his gimmicks, bordering on magic. Boris might get the point of the adage: be careful what you wish for.

    Theresa May, his main opponent for Conservative leadership, and PMship, is perhaps more likely to win. She is a Remain. But her messages have included tripe about exiting the jurisdiction of the Court of Human Rights, while staying in the EU. That is simply not feasible.
    It reveals what the present alternatives are in British politics. They are not progressive.
    The whole issue is a total mess. Cameron has the cheek to try to drag Corbyn after him, as he is as much to blame as the dirt merchants of reaction in English politics.

    If the Leavers don’t have a plan, what is the purpose of the stress on quitting? It must be the chaos.

    Workers’ rights are now far more exposed to such right-wing manipulation. The guarantees by being a member of the EU are now up in the air.

    Brexit?: they ain’t gone yet. At the very least it will be a lawyers giant picnic for years to come. The intermeshing of UK law with EU law is so extensive, it is difficult to know where to begin.
    Individuals will inevitably be claiming vested rights under EU treaty law for an indefinite time to come; decades even.

  25. Athena

    Jantonius, British citizens were lied to about the benefits of joining the EU in the first place. Austerity politics has done a lot of damage in the UK and in other EU member nations and continues to harm. There are many needed progressive measures which cannot be implemented when in the EU. What is better, an opportunity for improvement or no opportunity at all?

    When I said some of the reasons for leaving were misguided, I was referring to the voters blaming migrants for taking their jobs. They won’t have jobs even without migrants. Austerity and capitalism demands the loss of jobs.

  26. Neil of Sydney

    Jantonius, British citizens were lied to about the benefits of joining the EU in the first place. Austerity politics has done a lot of damage in the UK a

    I must admit i do not understand ALP/Greens supporters. I sort of agree with the first point. But austerity policies did not get EU or Britain in trouble. It was reckless spending. Look at Rudd/Gillard. Look at Greece/Spain

    Rudd/Gillard ran deficit budgets of $27B, $54B, $47B,$43B, $18B and $48B. More than $200B of debt in just 6 years.

    People turn to austerity after socialist govts/people trash the budget

  27. jantonius

    Athena,
    So, Brexit is a vote for leaving capitalism? I did not have a clue.
    And led by Johnson and Farage? Who could have guessed?

    If British citizens want equity they could start at home – and not repeatedly elect Conservative Governments.

    You do not care to consider the actual possibilities opened by Brexit. None of them could realistically reassure working people.

    The best chances are that the Brexit will be so onerous and complicated that the Conservs will have to carry it into an election.
    And/or that Brexit lapses in complications of negotiations.

  28. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    nos,

    Rudd/Gillard were right to run deficit budgets. Hip, hip, hooray. Join the party, nos! Deficits are good and surpluses are bad.

    Learn that lesson and you won’t need to cringe in the corner of austerity for the rest of your life.

  29. jimhaz

    Wealthy people turn to forcing austerity after socialist govts/people trash the budget – because conservatives lower taxes on the rich and use the power of greed and propaganda to prevent increases by progressive parties.

    I’d bet an analysis of spending in Europe would show little difference in gov spending conservative or progressive over a 30 year span – calls for austerity being the end result.

    There has been an across the board lack of discipline politically for many years. I see this as being similar to the finance system run by the 1% which is clearly a game of musical chairs – ie we have to keep doing the wrong thing because others are doing the wrong thing, and if we don’t do the same we will fall behind them, we will miss out of potential profits. When the music stops then everyone will be same boat and something major will be needed to fix them and us, but by that time maybe I’ll be out of the game, so who cares.

  30. Neil of Sydney

    Learn that lesson and you won’t need to cringe in the corner of austerity for the rest of your life.

    Thank you for agreeing with me that reckless spending caused all our troubles.

    But hey according to MMT we can pay off our debts with a keystroke. No need to work. Just print some more money.

    Austerity has never caused any problems. Reckless socialist spending has caused all our problems

    PS ALP/Greens locked up 8,469 children

  31. Athena

    “So, Brexit is a vote for leaving capitalism?”

    Jantonius, Brexit is an opportunity for leaving neoliberalism. Have you read Bill Mitchell’s article? I posted the link yesterday.

    “If British citizens want equity they could start at home – and not repeatedly elect Conservative Governments.”

    There are rules imposed by EU that restrict them, regardless of who is in government.

  32. Neil of Sydney

    Jantonius, Brexit is an opportunity for leaving neoliberalism

    Don’t agree. Brexit was a chance to vote against ALP open border deadbeats who want to fly in people rather than to train local people.

    ALP supporters do not want borders. Socialism does not agree with borders. Working class people in Britain were sick to death of losing their jobs from Eastern Europeans who do not want to live in Eastern Europe

  33. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    nos,

    I think you and I both know I was not agreeing with you. None of us know the fallout yet of Brexit but I agree with Athena. Brexit is an opportunity for leaving neoliberalism.

    Careful you don’t get your wires crossed also. Blaming ALP for what’s happening in Britain is a bit confused. Also, calling ALP socialist is a bit passe. (One can only hope they return to socialism soon.)

    Grassroots people everywhere are sick of losing their jobs to cheap, imported labour, which suits Big Biz to exploit. Getting out of Brexit is the start of a worldwide fight back on globalisation.

    Next will be byebye TPP, tearing up ChAFTA contracts and so on. I am cheering these events along.

  34. Neil of Sydney

    Blaming ALP for what’s happening in Britain is a bit confused.

    I am not as stupid as you think i am. ALP, British Labor Party- what is the difference? They both believe in open borders. Fly them in. Don’t train local workers.

  35. jimhaz

    [But hey according to MMT we can pay off our debts with a keystroke]

    I’m not one in that boat I think MMT is free lunch rubbish and would make things worse – it would lead to even less spending discipline by pollies.

    MMT might be workable on very large projects where there is a guaranteed future income stream greater than the cost (and I sense the recent LNP infrastructure spending is not in that boat). MMT would also be workable if all countries agreed to a limit and kept to it – no chance whatsoever of that though.

  36. jantonius

    Brexit ‘is an opportunity for leaving neo-liberalism’.
    Complete nonsense. Brexit is a reaffirmation of reactionary policies across the board.
    To deny that makes discussion impossible.
    Neil’s unpleasant post is nearer the truth of the political climate in Britain, revealed by Brexit.

  37. jimhaz

    [They both believe in open borders. Fly them in. Don’t train local workers]

    As do nearly all business people who vote LNP – which is why both the left and right wont ever discuss this issue openly with a view for change to lower immigration.

  38. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    jimhaz,

    my knowledge of MMT is enough to know that MMT is not a free lunch and is an opportunity for our sovereign claim on our own currency to derive full value out of our own talents and resources. It allows enlightened political leaders to inject funding into nation-building projects and services.

    That means CSIRO (with a new scientist CEO) would be properly re-funded for its diverse projects to return after they were allowed to wither and die.

    That means local manufacturing industries in renewable energies would be properly funded so that they can create full employment and sustainable lifestyles into the future.

    That means education at all levels can be properly funded so our talents are engaged and not lost in unemployment or overseas.

    MMT is workable at all levels of society because it aims to build on the strengths of the citizenry and to give value to every task that already exists but is exploited (by under-payment or no-payment), and to other potential ones too.

    I’ll let other MMT exponents enlighten us all more with what it can do, as opposed to what naysayers say it can’t.

  39. Athena

    “Brexit ‘is an opportunity for leaving neo-liberalism’.
    Complete nonsense. Brexit is a reaffirmation of reactionary policies across the board.”

    Jantonius, I did not say that the people elected to leave to get away from neoliberalism. I said the exit presents an opportunity to get away from it. Whether or not they decide to do that remains to be seen, but if they do exit the EU, they won’t be constrained by EU rules.

  40. Neil of Sydney

    Athena

    It was reckless spending that got some European countries into trouble. Same thing will happen here. Rudd/Gillard started a runaway debt truck. Most probably unstoppable. When debt gets out of control some govt in the future may try austerity but by then it will be too late.

  41. Athena

    Neil, according to you anything that isn’t corporate welfare for miners is reckless spending. Under the rules of the EU there are limits to the size of the deficit. That prohibits actions like issuing a stimulus package to avoid a recession.

  42. Neil of Sydney

    Neil, according to you anything that isn’t corporate welfare for miners is reckless spending.

    Really? Can you give me a link? The only corporate welfare i am aware of is that given to Toyota, Holden, Ford by both sides of politics for cars that nobody wanted to buy.

    It was reckless spending that got Greece into trouble. And Rudd/Gillard followed suit. We will be next unless we start running surplus budgets.

  43. nurses1968

    It seems the Exit vote really caught all sides out with no idea of where things may go.A BBC documentary just shown online highlights some of the basic initial issues.Cameron resigning but staying in the job for 3 months, Scotland believing it has veto powers that could stop the Brexit dead, Scotland now looking to push Independence, Ireland to try to block the Exit even though I seems liely that if they started to implement the Exit strategy today, it could take years.So the Tories are leaderless for 3 months Labour MPs are in revolt and Jeremy Corbyn likely to fall victim to the chaos.More than three-quarters of Labour MPs 172 voted to show that they had no confidence in his leadership, while 40 voted for him, and even Brexit leaders Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage appearing to be slowly backing away

  44. Dan Rowden

    Hello All,

    Long time no rant. Have to say I agree pretty much entirely with Paul Dawson. Pretty much, but not entirely entirely. There’s a certain dimension of irony attached to this article in that while is seeks to contrive a narrative about political deception and some sort of democracy-denuding absence or manipulation of information, it is, itself, ostensibly an exercise in propaganda and spin (though nicely written, I hasten to add).

    Of course the Brexit vote was democracy in action. One would have to self-servingly invent a whole new definition of “democracy” to sensibly claim it not to have been. The quality of information a populace has at its disposal may effect the ultimate quality of a democracy, but it does not speak to whether democracy in its most basic sense is being enacted or not. It seems to be invariably and depressingly the case that if a particular voting process doesn’t go the way we want we suddenly fall over ourselves fashioning arguments for how undemocractic the process was. In doing so we gleefully – in a fit of intellectual fantasy – choose to ignore the fact that if said process had achieved the outcome we desired, the otherside would be doing the very same argument-fashioning.

    So, apparently the “Leave” side put forward propositions that might in fact not be altogether accurate. Well, the “Remain” side did much the same thing. Or, did they? Really?

    Let’s not forget, also, that we had a Tory Prime Minister pushing the “Remain” case. One would ordinarily expect a population with insufficient information to make a considered and informed choice for change, to then default to the, well, default. Curiously, that didn’t happen. It seems cultural sentiment for the “Leave” view has been festering in the Disunited Kingdom for some time.

    It may be argued that the time-frame afforded the Brits to consider this vote was something of an exercise in forcing a nation to rush to judgement, but is that reasonable? The date for the vote was announced by Cameron following a key EU summit Thursday February 18 to Friday February 19 during which he claimed to have secured a deal on Britain’s membership of the EU. Polling day was Thursday June 23. That’s 124 days, or 4 months, 3 days. I mean, how long does a debate need to be? The time-frame seems to be sufficient. A 2 month election campaign here has already driven many of us to significant distraction.

    Most of the arguments involved in the Brexit debate are of an economic and ideological nature. In neither case does “truth” or “objective reality” inhere. And at all times in politics it must be remembered that there’s an important conceptual and ethical difference between falsehood and phantasm – i.e. sometimes politicians really do believe their own bullshit. My point here being that when the author says, “What was clearly missing from the whole decision making process was a factual trustworthy analysis of BOTH options.” she isn’t necessarily saying something meaningful (or, for that matter, factually accurate). I mean, what “facts” were there to subject to trustworthy analysis?

    There were competing economic and ideological (cultural) arguments, that’s all. Where are the “facts” to be trustworthily analysed? Where are the facts in the competing perspectives on Britain’s sovereign power with regard to social policy? Yes, there may be incidental facts within the fabric of that issue and each side of the argument will interpret and exploit those facts to support and prosecute their own view, but in the end it’s an ideological choice that’s being made. Indeed, the truth that competing viewpoints can take the same facts and fashion virtually opposite theses speaks to the ultimate impotence of “facts” in socio-political scenarios.

    If we are to claim that access to information is a pivotal aspect of democracy, quantitatively and qualitatively, then it is an undeniable fact that western democracies are substantially more democratic than ever before – far more than even as recently as the 80s (assuming you’re one of the unfortunate people who remember that decade). We moderns do not suffer any sort of information privation, we instead suffer from what Alvin Toffler called in his 1970 book Future Shock – infoxication (or infobesity).

    Prior to the development of the WWW (as opposed to the Internet, which is not the same thing), we really did have to rely on politicians and various external authorities to tell us what’s what. And of course, they fed us a version of reality that best served their purposes and agenda, just as we all do with other people (and our children) every day of our lives. If you imagine that what you tell people, or your children, each and every day is some sort of similitude to objective reality you’re either a liar or a fool. Most people are blissfully unaware of things like their own confirmation bias, for example. Politicians are no different in this respect.

    And it’s deeply instructive that we almost invariably tend to think it’s politicians on the other side who are lying to us. Funny how that works.

    In 2016, if you are a person who relies on their information from people who necessarily have an agenda to push, be they politicians, partisan pundits or puritanical periodical pencil pushers, you are necessarily either a seriously stupid person or lazy and apathetic beyond reason. There’s no excuse for most people today – zero, nada, zilch etc etc etc – for ignorance or allowing oneself to be force-fed information imbued with chauvinistic form and intent. Here in Australia there is an endless array of means by which any person might strengthen their informational arm – and you don’t need to listen to persons with particular designs and ambitions (although what such people tell us ought be part of the overall stockpile of data from which we construct choices). In the case of legislation you can visit the Parliament website and read the text of any Bill, read the debates regarding such, then go to the Parliamentary Library website and read scholarly yet always accessible articles written precisely to give informed and balanced information regarding such Bills. Given this ability, relying on politicians or radio numbskulls or political blog posts, is nothing less than daft and irresponsible.

    But people don’t. More than that – they won’t, and not because they are time or energy deficient, though there’s always an element of truth in that. And they won’t for the simple reason they don’t really give a damn. People are constitutionally driven to want their extant views and feelings mirrored back at them, to have them validated and reinforced by perceived external authority, whether that’s a politician, a media pundit they respect, a radio jock or a spouse. Most people are primarily driven by this and not any need to actually inform or substantiate their views. People have always and will always tolerate and invite political lies and spin if those lies and spin achieve any of the things I’ve just articulated. Why do we imagine commercial advertising works like it does? It’s sure as hell not because we’re objective and rational thinkers who value our intellects and refuse to be cynically manipulated.

    In most political contexts people want their biases and predispositions confirmed and they will accept anything said to them that achieves this, all the while indulging themselves in their willing suspension of disbelief which has become such a normal part of their daily cognitive routine.

    More than once during this election cycle Anthony Albanese has been caught – by ABC Fact Check – making false public statements. Indeed he has repeated one particular claim about Ricky Muir’s 2013 vote despite it being shown to be wrong. Why are we not calling him a liar? Well, seriously, why not? If it were a Tory doing it we we’d be yelling it at the top of our lungs and labelling it as indicative of conservative political fourberie.

    Politicians are not really the problem, whatever moral and intellectual deficits may reside in the nature of politics itself. No, the problem is – us. We are politics.

    Has Brexit cruelled the election for us? I fear it has, and will that be the fault of our politicians for exploiting it? No, it will be our fault for being thusly exploitable.

  45. Dan Rowden

    Neil,

    Other than in exceptional cases, an example of which has yet to actually exist, budget surpluses are utterly immoral (aside from economically unnecessary). Sadly, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to understand why.

  46. Neil of Sydney

    Other than in exceptional cases, an example of which has yet to actually exist, budget surpluses are utterly immoral (aside from economically unnecessary). Sadly, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to understand why.

    Yep i will never understand why. We are about to lose our AAA credit rating which Howard/Costello did so much work to get back. If lose we will never get it back but nobody wants to run surplus budgets.

    WE are about to find out if you MMT believers are right. Debt does not matter.

  47. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    We don’t need a poxy AAA rating, nos, coz we are a sovereign currency which means we don’t need to borrow.

    Screw the international bank loans ratings! Who cares!

    Stop falling for their bullshit.

  48. Neil of Sydney

    we are a sovereign currency which means we don’t need to borrow.

    Anybody who says that is a false prophet

  49. jimhaz

    Impressive logic as usual, Dan.

    The only Fact Checker article I looked at was an Albo claim about the level of spending as a proportion of GDP compared to the GFC period. It came to the wrong conclusion, so I didn’t bother looking for a better example of lie telling such as Muir.

    Not nitpicking, it’s contextually meaningless – I just found it amusing.

  50. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    So nos,

    we’re at a stalemate. I suggest you retreat coz your brand of politics is not generally accepted on this site.

    So seek some of your own ‘friends’.

  51. Neil of Sydney

    I suggest you retreat coz your brand of politics is not generally accepted on this site.

    I know that is why i post here. Why post on sites where everybody agrees with each other? But i do think MMT is false teaching. If it sounds to good to be true it generally is.

    Here you go, Neil.

    I really would not call that corporate welfare. My idea of corporate welfare it giving Holden, Ford, Toyota billions of dollars in cash. Those things in your list are tax beaks which i think most businesses get. Fact is Australian govts both State and Federal get billions of dollars in taxes and royalities from mining companies.

    By the way the ALP/Greens want to destroy our coal mining industry which is our second biggest export. But coal is needed to make steel. It is not just the heat from the coal that makes steel but the carbon also. So without coal you cannot make steel. And iron ore is our biggest export. So Greens/ALP want to destroy our two biggest exports.

  52. Michael Taylor

    Jennifer, NoS is a valued contributor on this site. His pearls of wisdom, his factual information, his well-constructed arguments, his balanced opinions and his unbiased commentary give us all food for thought.

  53. paul walter

    If that’s food for thought, treat me for malnutrition. He is probably a nice man in his own way.

    He writes partisan tosh, but am afraid he has as much right to add his thoughts as others. Once again, consider, refute where/when necessary but no exclusions unless foul language or overt abuse is involved?

  54. Neil of Sydney

    He writes partisan tosh

    I find that a little amusing. Nobody here writes partisan tosh? Only me?

    The biggest failure of the Rudd/Gillard govt is that they started a runaway debt truck. Remember when people said our debt was low and not a problem? Well it is a problem now. It was zero in 2007 and is now at 18% of GDP and exploding.

    And it should be mentioned again. Coal is needed to make steel. Without coal we have no steel. What do we make our buildings with if Greens want to stop coal mining?

  55. jantonius

    On the Brexit result:
    Paul Dawson 29/6/16 @ 3:06pm, above: “I believe the reason behind the result was a dawning realisation by the common people that their lives are being controlled by unelected powerful pressure groups.”
    And thus the Brexit supporters voted for… ? What was that again?

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