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Day to Day Politics: A Society for the Common Good. (Updated)

Friday 10 March 2017

Author’s note.

1 There are some things we write that at a later date when writing on the same subject the words we choose seem inferior to the original ones. It is with this in mind that I post.

A Society for the Common Good. That’s what I want.

I was walking my dog Zach (since departed)one autumn day in 2016 and thinking about the year in politics. Many things came to mind but the one thing that stood out was the sense of self entitlement that politicians have.

As if just being a politician necessitated some form of self-indulgence that set them apart from the society they are supposed to represent. My thoughts drifted to what I thought a society should be.

When, many years ago, the lady with the bad hair do uttered her famous and dispassionate condemnation of the human species:

”there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first”

I was horrified. It was a statement that could only be expressed by someone with a deep sense of isolation, selfish indifference, or indulgence. Was she saying that families only consisted of individuals making their way without any dependency on societal structure? The basic need to coexist and seek companionship.

We are by nature a herding animal. We form groups because no individual can survive without the assistance of others. ”No man is an island” as John Donne said. Margaret Thatcher’s statement condemns us to class self-centeredness and serfdom.

Successful societies should be built around a common good and we need to examine which political ideology is best placed to build such a society.

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves what is an ideal society based on the assumption that’s it’s an attainment we may never accomplish, but none the less is a worthwhile aspiration. Even call me idealistic if you want.

In the modern Western sense an enlightened society is a populace of men, women and children who as a collective desire to express their humanity, work, aspirations, spirituality, art, poetry and play with the richest possible diversity.

It cultivates a common good with equality of opportunity for all. A society where one’s sexual preference or gender is not a judgement upon your character and the color of your skin says nothing about you other than perhaps your geographical place of birth. A society that believes in individual pursuit, intellectual accomplishment and financial reward only regulated by what is beneficial for the common collective good. In other words everyone is entitled to an equitable share of society’s wealth.

A society where freedom of expression is guaranteed but limited only by the innate moral personal decency of the individual. Where free speech is fair speech. An enlightened society in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

A society where the health and welfare of all is sacrosanct and access to treatment is assured. Where the principle that we should treat others in the same manner as we expect them to treat us is indelible in the mind of every citizen. A society that respects science before myth and mysticism, but at the same time recognises the individual’s right to the expression of their own form of spirituality so long as it doesn’t hinder the common good.

A society that should be judged by its welcoming, and how well it treats its most vulnerable citizens. By how well protected we are and how accessible the law is regardless of stature or wealth.

In Democratic Societies (the best – or least bad form of government) our herding instincts are realised by the election of leaders who form government. Even in the imperfection of democracy we realise that a group mentality advances society better than dictatorial individuality.

So we need government that is subservient to the will (the common good ethic) of the people and is responsive to public opinion.

It is government that decides and regulates the progress and ambitions of society. Or at least provides the environment in which to do so. There is very little that is done in the name of progress that cannot be attributed in some way to government. Individual or collective ambition can only be achieved within a social structure built and controlled by government.

Currently we are experiencing a shift in power from government to those who control the means of production, financial institutions, the media, and the rich and large corporations.

Government by the people for the common good needs to be taken back.

It is our entitlement, not theirs.

2 On this day in 2016 I wrote:

A Whilst I understand the ABCs desire to have a diversity of views on its panel for the life of me, given his past, I could not understand how having Alan Jones opining about the Catholic Church, boys and morality was appropriate.

B A Royal Commission into the banks and the Financial Advice Industry is long overdue. Conservative Governments are loath to investigate the big end of town for ideological reasons. Last night’s Four Corners program should ensure one is implemented. It also highlights the need for a national ICAC.

C I have read many political books in my lifetime both biographical and scholarly. My favourite in terms of insight into how government works has always been Don Watson’s masterly study of Paul Keating ‘Recollections of a Bleeding Heart.’ Yesterday I began reading the book of the moment. Nikki Savva’s ‘Road to Ruin’ It gives promise of an insight into all that is wrong with the way we are governed.

D The IPA gains a voice in the Senate with the selection of 28-year-old James Paterson to the top of the Liberal Victorian ticket. Paterson has strong libertarian views on issues like free speech. Together with the right the IPA have had a victory?

E In the words of former Opposition Leader Dr John Hewson. Speaking about Tony Abbott.

”I suffered from his disloyalty because he was a constant channel from my office to John Howard”

”He did go down in history as probably the most effective leader of the opposition in the sense that he made negativity an art form, but from the point of view of good government and reform processes and so on, it was a pretty disastrous period”

My thought for the day.

”We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence”


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  1. stephentardrew

    Thank heavens for your decency John to counter the vile rhetoric peddled by left and right caught in a neoliberal lie of greed and gross inequality. We urgently need an economic paradigm shift before the biosphere is irreparably damaged.

  2. Keitha Granville

    Yes we do need to take our society back, and pull the government back to its rightful position as public servant, elected to represent US. but how ? They have all become so self-important and self-entitled that is nearly impossible to find any party that wants to listen. The few individuals that seem to try have no power to move the rest of the group.
    And we are reaching a tipping point when the very future of the planet is at risk.

  3. Jerry

    No one is listening to you John. You are fighting Ideology.Everyone just cares about themselves.The cats out of the bag. No going back now.It’s too late…We are all on the Titanic.

  4. Kaye Lee

    “We urgently need an economic paradigm shift before the biosphere is irreparably damaged.”

    Unfortunately, it appears we are going to go in the opposite direction stephen. Trump’s choice for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has just said in an interview that he does not agree CO2 is a primary contributor to global warming and that the Paris agreement was a “bad deal”.

    “Mr Pruitt, 48, is a climate change denier who sued the agency he now leads more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney-general. He said he was not convinced carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal was the main cause of climate change, a conclusion widely embraced by scientists.”

  5. Helena Lyons

    Well said, John.
    Just a small reminder to proofread …. The bolded sentence near the end. You’ve got ‘there’s ‘ not ‘theirs’ 😀

  6. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, Helena. I have fixed it for John.

  7. wam

    not enamoured with the donne quote no man is an island because maggie should exemplify that no matter how hard we try to make sure women are ‘islanded’ there is the occasional eruption into power.

    The point that maggie was making is very relevant in today’s politics for all Australians.

    This government chooses to target only one ‘island’ group with msm support:
    People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

    how sad was the fact that if we had got hewson, the best liberal since chipp, we would have destroyed little johnnie but missed keating. Choice revisited I, reluctantly, would have voted for hewson

  8. Vikingduk

    A society that believes the science and scientists of climate change; a society that demands action now; a society that demands these lying hypocrites, these incompetent, corrupt, morally bankrupt effing bastards that masquerade as a government do their job and govern for all Australians, stop their ideology ridden evil actions and, simply all of us need to wake the eff up.

    The latest NASA newsletter tells us that even if we were to stop our destructive ways now, if we were to stop the use of fossil fuels now, we would still be experiencing the consequences of our actions for several hundred years into the future.

    And there is another serious, massive coral bleaching happening on the reef now, two years in a row.

    A society for the common good. A society that rejects hate in all its many forms. A society that completely rejects the insanity that currently seems to rule a great majority of us.

  9. Alan Baird

    ‘t’s gonna be difficult. Today I heard an ex-Trump supporter reveal why he once was a Trump supporter (stygian ignorance, you could hear the gum when he spoke) when he confided that Trump was too close to Putin (fair enough) and that Putin wants to spread communism all over the world. Yeah, he’s a real communist… he’s got billionaire mates (+ a bit for him) and the whole place is run by “the people”. Asif. A “kleptonist” or even a common-or-garden-autocrat maybe but bugger all to do with communism. We’ve got the same “salt of the earth” here as well. Very thick on the ground, very thick. No wonder Pauline likes them both. As an old German rello used to say, “Birds of a fedder flock mit demselfs”.

  10. Terry2

    Bill leak passed away today from a suspected heart attack : Rowan Dean, the editor of Spectator Australia, said Leak had been “hounded to his grave” by the Human Rights Commission.

    Hmmm , the rabid Right have accused Gillian Triggs of many things but this !

  11. Jack Straw

    Rowan Dean would say anything for his pathetic cause.

  12. stephengb2014

    Totally agree with this article John, extremely well thought argument for a better world.

    It has been my observation that there are two types people in the world, the bullied, and the bullies!

    The bullied think collectively for mutual benefit and the bullies think self for self benefit!

  13. helvityni

    Jack Straw, Rowan Dean…please, pass the bucket.

    Stephengb2014, the number of bullies is increasing, internet has boldened them.

    Terry2, I’m not shedding tears for Bill Leak.

  14. stephengb2014

    The bullies have had their way for most of history.
    How do we stop this?

  15. helvityni

    Stephengb, maybe so, but not in every country; I did not even know what bullying meant before coming to Australia. I have not been bullied here either in ‘real’ life, but definitely on internet. Maybe people feel they can say anything when using/ hiding, behind pseudonyms.

  16. silkworm

    As a member of the Left, I share in the responsibility for the killing of Bill Leak, and I don’t regret it.

  17. Roswell

    havanaliedown, if your intention is to come here and attack people, then I will be quite happy to delete your comments, as I have with your last one.

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