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Democracy Usurped

Image from

Image from

I have said it before but it deserves repeating. Democracy is not failing us; it is we who fail democracy when we fail to actively engage with it. Democracy, as we practice it today, has lost its essential direction and has been usurped by divisive, vitriolic, jingoistic spin. Democracy today is no longer government of, by and for the people. It is government of the most influential, the loudest shock jock, the focus group, the public relations consultant and whoever else is able to exercise their lust for power. This dysfunctional gathering ignores concern for national unity and prosperity. The voice of the special interest group has come to dominate the present model. Debate, divide and conquer is the aim and its tactic is to fragment the collective energy of the nation, split it down the middle, weaken its resolve and make it easier for vested interests to have their way. Unity is strength. Disunity is a recipe for failure.

The system we call democracy, the one devised by ourselves for ourselves, has been hi-jacked. It has been compromised by the wealthy for the benefit of the wealthy. The collective interest of the masses has been relegated to second place and has become a by-product. The ideology of conservative politics is to strengthen power within a subset of the privileged; those who have the means to exploit and develop resources. The people who own the resources are relegated to mere observers and see little of the benefits that result.

I am reminded of these basic tenets of democratic idealism when I observe the lack of them with the present government; how they go about their highly orchestrated routine of daily spin doctoring. Dressing up documents with headings like ‘Labor’s Mess’ is not just poor politics. It tells us how uncertain they are about their own legitimacy. They are reminding us of how they got there. It says they didn’t get there on their merits; they campaigned on negative values, on what was bad about the other side, not what was good about them. They couldn’t say what was good about them because they don’t know. They don’t think of such things. They have an uncompromising agenda, devoid of social morality and will favour those who support that agenda without consideration of the social implications. That agenda is essentially about wealth creation; developing, embracing, supporting and rewarding wealth creation. When successful and productive it has flow-on effects that benefit the greater population through employment, education and health, all of which benefits the nation as a whole. Conservative governments love that agenda. Their failing is that they place that agenda ahead of social responsibilities. And when things go pear-shaped it is the rest of the population who suffer, who bear the brunt of mistakes made by those whose only interest is wealth creation. This is not how democracy was meant to work.

How do we reinvent democracy? How do we wind it back to the way it was practiced in the past, when the voice of the people determined the future direction of the country. When we engage in collective discussion we are more intelligent than we think. When we argue for collective interest over special interest we strengthen the whole. Discussion panels need to replace focus groups. Councils for public interest should replace lobbyists. But I’m not holding my breath. The people will decide this government’s future, but it is likely they will not be able to see through this agenda, this ideologically flawed goal of wealth creation above all else. They will, more likely, be blinded by spin and deceit. And that means Labor, in opposition, will need to sharpen their communication skills and find more creative ways to deliver their message.

It remains to be seen if they can convince sufficient numbers of voters in at least 21 seats around the country to change their vote. It remains to be seen if such skills, properly developed, will prevail. A recent survey of 15000 people in Canada concluded that “people with low intelligence gravitate towards right-wing views because they make them feel safe.”
The study also concluded that, “Individuals with lower cognitive abilities may gravitate towards more socially conservative right-wing ideologies that maintain the status quo.”
This apparent connection between conservative voters and lower cognitive abilities should not surprise anyone. It is what has enabled conservative governments to win power for decades.

But dealing with, and overcoming, that anomaly is the challenge for Labor. That is what it will take to remove this deceitful and ideologically paralysed government from office in 2016. One thing is clear: this government should be removed. They are only interested in governing for their masters; the privileged, the wealthy and the powerful. They achieve that end by deceit, by carefully concealing their true intentions and by the constant repetition of three word slogans which they know appeal to the ignorant and the less intelligent.

But this isn’t how democracy is supposed to work.


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  1. doctorrob54

    Well done John.All to sad and all to true.How much more depressing can it get.

  2. John Kelly

    Reblogged this on THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN and commented:

    How do we reinvent democracy? How do we wind it back to the way it was practiced in the past, when the voice of the people determined the future direction of the country.

  3. Steve

    There must be a way to get these morons fired , we can see that they have lied about almost everything , it is not what the people voted for , now that they are in office , supposedly to represent the Will Of The People , they do as they please and treat our people with contempt .
    Question :
    Is it not stated in our Australian Constitution 1900-1, that We The People are in charge , and the politicians are there to carry out the Will Of The People ?
    And if they fail to do our will , we can have them removed from office by way of the Governor ?
    It would be a shame and a disgrace to allow them to continue hurting ordinary Australians , Mums , Dads Grandparents , Pensioners , the sick , and our children , only to sell our country to criminals in our midst .
    There must be somebody with some brains and guts in our community that could shed some light on how to deal with these morons before they have run their course of destruction for the next 4 years .
    May God help us if we don’t help ourselves .

  4. Wayne Turner

    Oh so true.

  5. Wayne Turner

    Agree Steve. To start with Labor and Greens block all of the budget in the Senate,base it is all based on LIES!

  6. Ricardo29

    After hearing the Alan Jones piece on Qld. Corruption as passed on by Kaye Lee, I believe ‘cane toad’ Newman must be ousted.

    The Labor Opposition should announce publicly that if returned to power it will establish a Royal Commission to look to the corruption surrounding the CSG industry.

    If Jones’ info was right, and it certainly seemed to be, then there is surely enough corruption to warrant such a step.

    I think Labor Governments once elected have pussy-footed around whereas their opponents –witness the highly political inquiries of Abbott and crew — have no such scruples.

    It’s time for Labor parties everywhere to wield the mailed fist, minus the velvet glove.

    Back to Queensland and I wonder if the Opposition Leader (whoever that is) is talking to the editors of papers and other media leaders to try to, if not get them onside, at least commit to giving Labor a fair go. I can’t imagine that the rank and file of journos are happy with what is happening in Queensland.

    Ah the sunshine state where corruption has a long and ignoble history. When will it stop?

  7. Steve

    Hi Wayne , These are Bad Times for Australia .There has to be a Constitutional way of stopping them , we need some one who knows our Australian Constitution 1900-1 Law , the true Law of our land , to force them to do the will of the people .

  8. Wayne Turner

    Indeed Steve 😉

    Also,to Ricardo: These Libs have NO SHAME (Of course helped hugely by having the MSM promote them/on their side),and too often Labor has NO GUTS 🙁

  9. MissPamela

    “This apparent connection between conservative voters and lower cognitive abilities should not surprise anyone. It is what has enabled conservative governments to win power for decades.”
    Sprouting intellectually elitist comments only puts those of us who are not supporters of the conservative government on the same basis as them – they are elitists – democracy should not be.
    I have taught people with low cognitive abilities for years. The survey is probably correct when it states they vote conservative because it is “safe” and “maintains the status quo”. However people with low cognitive abilities are not ineducable and their opinions can be changed – isn’t this what a strong opposition should be doing? Showing the electorate, regardless of their intellectual capacity, that what we currently have is not “safe” for them and that the “status quo” being established by this government will disadvantage them and should be changed. It can be done, but I don’t see it happening at the moment

  10. david

    shared via facbook i agree with this and miss Pamela comment

  11. edward eastwood

    As what through this governments term is becoming a well worn quote from John Stuart Mill; ‘Not all Conservatives are stupid but most stupid people are conservative.’

    If Labor wants to claw its way back into government then it must abandon its twenty year adherence to the policies of ‘supply side’ economics – so beloved of Reagan, Thatcher, Howard and Abbott and replace them with Neo-Keynesian or Neo-Chartalism theory and their inherent commitment to restore full employment. This in reality is not difficult to do or to implement.

    A re-staffing of the Public Service to serve as the bulwark against private sector down turn, coupled with a commitment to investing in Green Technology and research, would be a good place to start and finally rescinding the cross media ownership laws which would ensure a diversified, genuine and most importantly, an inquiring free press.

    Of course, in the light of the today’s Budget delivery and the utter mendacity of those delivering it, this would seem highly unlikely or nigh impossible.

    At present, the ALP are reminiscent of Galileo in the Middle Ages. They know the truth of ‘free-market’ economics, and if they don’t, they should – the Earth is not flat nor does the Sun revolve around it and government deficit is not ‘debt’ in same sense as house-hold or business debt- despite what the Neo-libs argue, but are fearful of speaking out and being branded as heretics by the largely owned Murdoch MSM and its congenitally stupid readership.

    In point of fact, the Abbott government is easy to beat on the proviso that the ALP stops playing by their opponents rules particularly the myths of ‘Surplus’ and ‘Unsustainable Debt’.

    Only then will they regain their credibility as a genuine political alternative to sham of ‘the free market’ and its agenda to subvert the democratic processes.

    Are you listening Bill Shorten?

  12. Don S

    I live in an area that has one of the lowest percapita average incomes and a very high rate of unemployment. While I am of average intelligence it leaves me dumbfounded when I speak to some of my fellows. They are rusted on political extreme right supporters even though the political right treats them with contempt. These people are not intellectually or cognitively challenged, they are average Aussie’s. Why?

  13. Maree Elizabeth

    wow this is so true and bold…. fantastic …….

  14. diannaart

    How do we wind it back to the way it was practiced in the past, when the voice of the people determined the future direction of the country.

    When was this magical time of a true democracy? In the 1960’s? Women and indigenous Australians would beg to differ. In the 1970’s Women still under-represented (along with all the usual neglected minorities from Indigenous, non-whites, GBLTI etc) and we were treated to Thatcher & Reaganomics.

    1980’s? – That’s when it was safe to be openly greedy.

    1990’s onwards? What small progress women have gained in representation has been lost out to corporate interests.

    21st Century? Still no sign of the mythical democracy.

    Churchill, no doubt, was correct when stating democracy was imperfect but better than all the rest. We don’t even aspire to Churchill’s democracy (only democratic if white & male) in the brand new century.

    We do not need to wind back to any magical and imagined past – we need to look forward and set out what our priorities, responsibilities and rights are for now and into the future for our children.

  15. Miriam English

    Actually, despite their free market rhetoric, the supposed Conservatives (they’re really radicals, not conservatives) in this government actually oppose wealth-creation.

    It should be obvious to blind Freddy that increasing educational opportunities will increase wealth for Australia, but they oppose that.

    It’s not hard to see that if a large part of the workforce is ill then productivity suffers, yet they are trying to kill our health safety net.

    The ABC is responsible for getting many internationally renowned and highly profitable production companies their start (for example Beyond Productions), yet they want to fatally damage that.

    They’re trying to sabotage the Renewable Energy Target which saves households and businesses money, brought about $20 billion in investments, and more than 24,000 jobs to Australia for the long-term renewable energy industries and they want replace it with short-term money for a few rich mates in coal and gas which are both dead-end industries, while the rest of the world hurries to reduce coal consumption. We’ll lose vast sums of money when that hits home.

    They want to replace an internationally competitive data network with one that is outmoded before it even gets built in an age when the internet is perhaps the single greatest wealth-creation tool in the world.

    They waste billions of dollar keeping refugees in concentration camps and turning others away, when study after study has shown that immigrants are actually a great source of wealth generation — they create jobs and opportunities for all of us.

    They want to bring in austerity measures, despite an enormous body of evidence now that austerity wrecks economies. When things start going badly (which they have not really done in Australia yet) then government spending is the best way to get the economy moving again. This government will cripple the economy.

    Personally, I see Labour as part of the problem. Ever since the CIA managed to get rid of Whitlam
    they’ve been too scared to do anything that might annoy the USA. Considering the radically corrupt direction US politics has taken these days I wouldn’t expect anything from Labour. I stopped wasting my vote on them ages ago. The Greens are the only ones who have any morality these days.

  16. Anomander

    Democracy, as we we like the believe it should exist, is long dead, buried and rotting in the ground.

    We may get to vote once every few years, with our choice of candidates already pre-selected for us by the Lib/Lab duopoly, commonly leaving us the option of choosing the least bad of two disgusting offerings:

    a) – A pile of shit, or
    b) – A pile of vomit

    True representation is held exclusively by those who have the money and the corporations they control.

    It is these entities who get to vote every single day by using their wealth and influence to corrupt policy and legislation to their own ends, and that is to amass even more money and never once contribute to society.

    Here’s a perfect example of how the uber-rich are able to get away with paying any tax whatsoever. So much for everyone bearing the load.

    These feckers are the reason why our revenue is in decline and will continue to fall. If they paid an appropriate level of tax and couldn’t rort their way our of it through loopholes and tax-offsets, our nation would be awash with funds to invest in services and infrastructure we all need. Alas, our scumbag government is about to gut the tax office of thousands of workers, so the chances of a clampdown on people like this are even less likely.

    We need a new form of representation because the one we have is so perverted it no longer functions for us or our society.

  17. randalstella

    Miriam English,
    Nice angle, good post. Where is such critical description in the MSM?
    If the last bit which speculates over Whitlam – forced to 3 elections in 3 years during an international energy and inflation crisis – is not exactly accurate (and I am not claiming to correct it), it might as well be; for what we get from Shortened Labor these days.

  18. Anomander

    Nicely stated Miriam.

  19. mars08

    Ideally, truth and transparency would be core elements of a democracy. But, apparently the plebs can’t handle the truth. So our ruling class uses “noble lies” to prompt the electorate into making the “proper” choice.

    No need to trouble the masses with the facts!

  20. jimhaz

    Ahh the Whitlam Coup and the CIA – reminds me of the good old days of Redgum.

    Redgum – Servin’ U.S.A.

    Clearly nothing has changed for the better. With Gillard fawning over Obama when he was here, and Shorten reporting personalities to the US “Ambassador” (read propaganderist). The LNP connection to those who run the world their way, seems to be more via the UK tories.

  21. Joe Banks

    A recent survey of 15000 people in Canada concluded that “people with low intelligence gravitate towards right-wing views because they make them feel safe.” And I am sure this applies equally to Australia.

    Does this fly in the face of compulsory voting? I have always argued that people who ‘don’t care’ or don’t know’ are dangerous voters and should stay at home on poling day. But I am always given reasons why everyone in this country should be forced to vote. It would be interesting to have a ‘one off’ election with no compulsory voting just to test it out.

  22. MissPamela

    Don S
    I don’t have an answer, but perhaps it is, as the Canadian survey said “safe” because it “maintains the status quo” but nothing to do with intelligence or cognitive ability. I too have some acquaintances and (unfortunately) family members who are not intellectually challenged and who religiously vote LNP because that is what they have always done and is what their parents did etc etc. – “safe” and “status quo”. That is the perception that needs to be changed.
    Miriam – well said! I agree Labor are too scared to try to change people’s way of thinking.

  23. Stephen Tardrew

    edward eastwood:

    May 13, 2014 • 11:31 am

    Totally agree Edward great post.

    Miriam English

    May 13, 2014 • 12:24 pm

    Well said Miriam though I still think the Greens need to rethink some of their policies and strategies.

    Previously I posted a series of short sound bites that could drive a progressive agenda to counter the LNP but where the hell is Labor’s simple message to workers that can be absorbed easily with a short explanation attached.

    Labor must keep it simple, accurate and honest e.g.

    “Wealthy Rip of Working Class and Poor” plus a short example to boot say “tax inequality” or “Increasing wealth gap” or “GST= inequality” or we can’t offshore our savings……..

    ‘Rich Get Super Free Lunch While Working Class and Poor Struggle in Old Age’.

    The point is are Labor too scared to stir up their wealthy mates? Looks like it doesn’t it.

    Edward you are right Labor needs to turn away from ‘supply side economics’.

  24. Wayne Turner

    Liberal party = NO SHAME (Tell lies to cover up lies.Tell more lies when confronted on lies.Openly lie about the state of the economy,puppets for big business,and openly ran around on the side of mining magnates to campaign against any mining tax.)

    Labor party = NO GUTS (Easily bullied by the Libs & MSM.DO NOT challenge ignorance,and lies.Me too on asylum seekers.Also,easily bullied by mining magnates with watered down mining tax.Too gutless and polite to BIASED MSM.Need to be more Keating,and less Beazley/Rudd/Gillard/Shorten).

  25. edward eastwood

    Stephen Tardrew;

    You wont get any argument from me.

    If the ALP and to a lesser extent, the Greens don’t get any fire in their bellies soon, both will become politically irrelevant.
    So where will the new force come from? Unfortunately, history dictates that it will be either the extreme Right or the extreme Left, at which point there is small difference between the two as both with use a “Nationalist” platform to further their aims – which usually results in totalitarianism.
    Welcome to Australia in the 21st century. and the social dislocation that Abbott and co want – nay, lust for, is all so unnecessary.

  26. mars08


    …nothing to do with intelligence or cognitive ability…

    The researched don’t see it that way… QUOTE:

    “The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, examined data from two large-scale British studies, and found lower intelligence scores in childhood were predictors of greater racism in adulthood, which the researchers controversially explain is brought about by adopting right-wing ideologies.

    A secondary analysis of data from a U.S. study also showed those with poor abstract-reasoning skills were more likely to have anti-homosexual prejudice, partially linked to authoritarian attitudes.

    Lead researcher Gordon Hodson told LiveScience that the results of the study indicate a vicious cycle, in which people with low intelligence are drawn to socially conservative ideologies. In turn, those ideologies can contribute to prejudices.”


  27. MissPamela

    I was not disputing the findings of the research you quote or the Canadian research quoted by John Kelly. Indeed I have extensively worked with people with low intelligence and agree with the findings. Like the poverty cycle, there are cycles of racism and prejudice.
    My comment was in reply to Don S. We both are acquainted with people who are not of low intelligence who are also attracted to conservative ideologies and and racist, homophobic prejudices. These were the people to whom I referred when I said it was ” …nothing to do with intelligence or cognitive ability…”
    My original post was to make the point that people who are challenged intellectually are not ineducable and that non-conservative political parties should be trying to change their point of view – if we believe that people can break out of any cycle (poverty, racist etc) what hope is there

  28. Kaye Lee


    MissPamela’s point, in my mind, was that people can be taught. They can be informed. The message has to be interesting and this is where Labor falls down. It is so easy to say “the $667 billion debt is what happens when you cut the carbon tax and mining tax” or “the $123 billion in deficits are what happens when you introduce gold plated PPL and bribes to polluters Direct Action”. Why are they not pointing out that those figures are the result of implementing Coalition policies?

  29. MissPamela

    Thank you for putting it so succinctly Kay Lee. That was exactly my point.

  30. mars08

    Of course people can be taught. If they are willing to accept new information they can be informed.

    Children with lower general intelligence are more likely to become prejudiced as adults…

    The study indicates that the window to make individuals open to a progressive way of thinking is quite short. As they get older their prejudices become more ingrained. That’s what we are up against.

  31. miriamenglish

    JoeBanks – We can easily see the results of the experiment to remove compulsory voting: just look at USA, where (if I remember rightly) 12% of the population voting for Reagan was called a “landslide victory”. It’s a terrible way to run a democracy, especially with all the added obstacles to voting, so favoured by the Conservatives, such as voter ID, restricted voting hours, shortened registration period, routine “accidental” classification of minority groups as felons (thus ineligible to vote in USA), and so on.

    The big problem with our current caricature of a democracy is the mainstream media. James Surowiecki in his book “The Wisdom of Crowds” showed that a group comprising a wide selection of people can make smarter choices than the smartest person in that crowd, and that paradoxically, removing the least intelligent people from that crowd doesn’t make the group as a whole smarter, it makes it more stupid.

    What differentiates smart crowds from insane, stupid crowds is variety. A crowd with lots of diversity is very smart. A crowd made up of people who think alike is stupid and tends to make insane decisions. What this tells us is that our mainstream media’s habit of brainwashing people into thinking alike is extremely dangerous. We need as much cultural and intellectual diversity as possible and we need to maximise the vote.

  32. MissPamela

    Agreed and the MSM and conservative governments are trying very hard to to make us all think alike. They actively discourage any diversity. Indeed, Newman has just sacked Chris Davis for disagreeing with him. I doubt any LNP politicians will dare express views that do not follow the party line despite any negative feedback from their electorate. We need to encourage and support the politicians and journalists who are prepared to express a diverse point of view.

  33. Mic

    Even the “left wing” parties are so far to the right of center, that the far-far right is in danger of falling off the end of the spectrum.

    How can we expect Democracy to work when we currently have ONE major party masquerading as two?

  34. Michael Feeney

    What we really need is people to go out and have real conversation with real people,not generalise about their “Intelligence”.Going to the right school does not define smart.Involveing people in dialoge,showing them how to access ,and find real facts,and alternate information.Being illerate is what msm +global conglomerates thrive on.Just show life friends how to access information about what is really happening,and let them vote according to their conscience.Look at Greece,Spain,Portugal,Libya Syria Ukraine,etc,etc,.. M Feeney.

  35. darrel nay

    It’s great to see people free to discuss such topics – it may not be this way under the UN’s ever-encroaching and bankster-funded Agenda 21 (supported by all ‘our’ parties).
    I believe the word democracy comes from the Greek and is essentially mob-rule. Majority rule puts any minority second even if the majority are incorrect. Someone described democracy as two wolves and a sheep sitting down for dinner. Witch-hunts and Nazism were both examples of majority rule. Almost every Australian, including economists, believes we are vastly over-taxed but Australian governments continue to roll out new taxes (while exempting the corporations), showing that we are NOT a democracy. It seems Australia is an increasingly Fascist/Corporate Oligarchy.
    With reference to compulsory voting I would say that it is the antithesis of our national ideal of “young and free”.

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