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Our Democracy is a work in progress for Social Progressives

As a reader of The AIMN, you probably fit the profile of a centre to centre-left person more interested in politics than the average Joe Blow. That being the case, you are given over to thinking about how our politics affects not only you but all those who live within our democracy.

This point of this – and my forthcoming article – is that after the dreadfulness of COVID-19 has left us, we would examine what ideas and opportunities will present themselves toward a better system of governance.

If you think our system of governance doesn’t require a makeover, please don’t read any further.

Suppose you are, as I am, a socially progressive democrat: You are sick to death of the destruction that male conservatives in Australia and abroad have done to democracy. Their acquisition of the techniques of narcissism, sexism, intolerance, racism and lying as political tools for purchasing power or its retention has to be regretted.

In that case, you will understand that, in principle, democracy is a political system where like-minded people come together to form ideas that become a philosophy. In the main, they are male dominated, although the opportunity to lesson this burden that democracy carries is upon us.

They then become the foundation of political parties. These ideologies contain many different variants, and more empathise is often accorded one variant to another. Some beliefs are more extreme than others.

The rise of narcissism and inequality and the demise of compassion illustrate the state of Australian politics.

Democracy is far from a perfect system, but it is elastically flexible, unpredictable, and at its worst, violent and highly combative. Our Australian democracy at its best is noble, constructive and generally serves society well. However, after eight years of conservatism, it is undoubtedly in need of a grease and oil change.

That it is superior to the next best thing remains unchallenged. It not only accommodates diagonally opposed ideas but actively encourages them.

All in all, democracy has served us well. In its purest form, it is known as a government for the people by the people.

Common to most Western democracies (and in the absence of anything better), it has an unregulated capitalistic economic system.

In Australia, the right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. We do not, however, vote for who should be the Prime Minister.

The people are free to vote for whichever party (or individual in their electorate) they support. Overriding this, of course, is the fact that people cannot possibly believe in democracy and at the same time think that their party is the only one that should ever win.

A clear indication of an Australian democracy in decline is that people are giving up this voting gift, literally saying: “A pox on both your houses.” In the 2019 Federal Election almost 9 per cent of eligible voters elected not to participate in their democratic right.

Our political system is in crisis because our solicitations fail to clarify issues that concern people.

When a political party deliberately withholds information, the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is governed. It is lying by omission. It is also equivalent to the manipulation of our democracy.

Moreover, an enlightened democracy should involve the people with purposeful participation. Not just ask them to sit in judgement every three years.

We can see the evidence of our democracy in crisis in the quality of those we elect. Kelly, Laming, Christensen, Porter, Taylor, Tudge, Joyce and others should never pass pre-selection. That so few women are elected to Parliament is a travesty and needs to be fixed. The quality and character of leadership have also been so poor that the government has seemed almost indolent and a serious concern.

Any system of government that primarily exists for self-interest or to serve secular interests. One that is overly influenced by an elite of business leaders, religious leaders, politicians and media interests who have the power to enforce their version of the democratic process is not a democracy. It is fundamentally anti-democratic.

Conservatives worldwide have gone down the path of inequality with a born-to-rule mentality favouring the rich.

These words Tim Dunlop’s article from 2014; “The right hates the society it has created” still resonate today:

“The whole logic of the ‘lifters’ and ‘leaners’ rhetoric so favoured by the current Government is a distillation of the idea that there is no such thing as society. That we and only we are responsible for our circumstances.”

Over the past eight years, conservatives in Australia have wrecked institutions and conventions that have existed for many years. So bad has their governance been that it would be best described as some variance of Fascism where big business, supportive media and religion dominate our everyday lives.

The common good should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than on the right.

It has to change before we sink in a quagmire of American Tea Party Republicanism.

Next time: What needs to be fixed.

My thought for the day

I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have a hate on their lips, and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile.


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14 comments

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  1. ajogrady

    Under their masterful and expert dereliction of duty and their corrupt guiding influences the L/NP, with their usual ability to disregard any practical use of due diligence or forward planning, has Australia destined to become a major economic backwater and an internationally recognised pariah state that will be ridiculed, ostracized and become irrelevant on the world stage.
    Scotty from marketing,the periferous penticostalot Pinocchio, with his conga line of corrupt theives and con artists masquerading as a government are doing what they do best, deceiving and destroying gullible Australians lives and living standards while they funnel taxpayers monies into the pockets of L/NP donors who mostly do not pay taxes. Corruption 101.
    Australians keep voting for the party that does not represent or respect them. A party that is an insult to Democracy and an embarrassment to good governance. A party that is built on nepotism and corruption. A party that is practised in the art of deception. A party that is big on rhetoric but small on achievement. A party that has overseen the collapse of Australian living standards. A party that has been the architects of the most failed policies in Australian history. A party that has decimated the economy and the emvironment. There has been enough evidence in the public arena for many many years that the L/NP are a criminally corrupt cabal of foot soldiers for big business and have been a continuous and destructive impediment to Australia reaching its true potential. The fact that the L/NP shake hands with devils and turn their backs on angels is indisputable. Greed and corruption is their religion. Lies and distortion is their game. The L/NP are a parasitic pox on good honest hard working Australians. “1984” was written as a warning … not as an instruction manual for the L/NP.

  2. Jamess

    If you tell the lie long enough it is eventually believed. (Democracy)
    No such thing. Observations of so called government. (Corporation)
    Is testament to that.
    Taking responsibility for ones actions might be a start, But you need a conscientious for that.

  3. Phil Pryor

    Democracy?? Australia is a farkupracy and a plutocracy and a Caponery all in one. Plop Vomitson the P M, a Projectile Merde and Primitive Mentality, is a dummy front, a coat of camouflageing faecality, a veneer of venality, a Carbuncle on the nation’s todger. Corporate extractive crony capitalist parasitism is the new serfdom, the polished up slavery, the gig existence. Bent politicians, careerist showoff poseers, whole governments, bought and rented, nil foresight, nil responsibility; Fight for Better!

  4. Pete Petrass

    John, a slight correction to your final quote, in fact just two letters, at the end.
    “I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have a hate on their lips, and their hate starts with the beginning of a smirk.”

  5. Andrew J. Smith

    Concerning when supposedly informed and/or educated Australians, including in media and politics, for all intents and purposes are passive and unempowered (but ‘prosperous’), while observing or witnessing the importation of US radical right libertarianism and related infrastructure, including the sociocultural fluff.

    Requires a focus upon the ‘self’ or narcissism, to impair society through a buffet of sociocultural issues to mask the unpalatable libertarian policies and opaque culture in the shadows, which are the real objective e.g. small govt., low taxes, then paring back or nobbling: state services, citizenship rights, corporate responsibilities and more e.g. nobbling or preventing robust environmental laws; modus operandi imported from the US (via Koch linked think tanks and NewsCorp).

    Jane Mayer describes this attack on democracy in ‘Dark Money’ as not changing what people or voters think, but more permanent, how they think (Nancy MacLean of ‘Democracy in Chains’ fame is also related, in describing well the history and embedding of this libertarian socio-economic ideology in the US).

    Adam Curtis in ‘Century of the Self’, if one sets aside his clear left ideology, offers a good theoretical introduction of this modus operandi through Freud’s relative Edward Bernays, the founder of modern or post WWII PR and advertising, e.g. using focus groups to see what pushes or manipulates voters’ buttons and Thatcher/Reagan representing the first push…..

    My concern in Oz is how many good and/or educated people are easily led into cul de sacs round socio-cultural issues, learnt from legacy media, that simply lead to preserving the status quo……

  6. Jack sprat

    “there’s room at the top they’re telling you still”
    “but first you must learn to smile as you kill”
    working class hero by John Lennon .

  7. Dianne

    Andrew J. Smith – one wonders why you waste your intellectual sweetness on this desert air but this reader is rather glad you do.

    So many conceptual issues raised that demand further exploration. Enjoyable homework nevertheless.

  8. wam

    ajogrady,
    You need to ask why the workers desert labor and vote for the lnp?
    The common theme in my family and friends is fear of the loonies.
    Ironically the lnp have always been beneficiaries of the largesse of the loonies.

  9. ajogrady

    Wam.
    I think the systamatic destruction of unions that created a bond between workersand therefore a foil against the continued lies and distortions against Labor by the Main Stream Media is probably the simplest but truest answer to your question.

  10. paul walter

    A shrewd observation Andrew J. Smith re Jane Mayer.

    Interesting parallel, that so few seem to understand it.

  11. RosemaryJ36

    John Lord – a small correction:

    “My thought for the day

    I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have a hate on their lips, and their hate starts with the beginning of a SNEER.”

    They see caring for others as a sign of weakness, which is why women and those in the caring professions are undervalued and men have to be tough.

    There are 3 certainties in life – death, taxes and change.

    Death is, eventually. inevitable, taxes keep the poor in their place – but change is the undoing of the uncaring.

  12. paul walter

    I wonder if change has not been the undoing of the caring.

    As for the rest, individuation, socialisation, commodification, the system reproduces as ever.

    I wonder, if we are an ape, if evolution breeds out what makes us human, where does that leave us?

  13. Stephengb

    John Lord, well said Sir,

    AIMN is indeed frequented by the progressives, NOT by many conservatives (if any).

    Our democracy is indeed in trouble, not because of its history and not because it is at fault, but because it has been usurped by vested interests.

    The rot started in Australia thanks to Hawke and Keating, and not by the Liberal Party. The Neoliberal Agenda began to take hold following the oil shocks of the 1970’s, but it was Hawke and Keating that introduced it to Australia.

    We essentially have a two Party Corporatocracy, because both parties are wedded to the Neoliberal economic narratives.
    Both parties are funded by corporations.
    Both parties expend an inordinate energy just trying to stay in power rather than good governance.
    Both parties are rife with chronyism, nepotism, and mates rates.
    Both parties are willing to put up with misinformation, misrepresentation, lies and corruption, in order to stay in power.
    Both parties have members of parliament willing to lie and cheat to stay in the Canberra Trough
    Both parties largely ignore the wishes of the people.

    Yes I believe the ALP are less of the above, but they are not necessarily going to give us good governance.

    The following article, tells us the story.

    https://jacobinmag.com/2021/03/australian-labor-party-paul-keating-privatization-neoliberalism

  14. Jack sprat

    Kim Beazley senior once commented that the labor party once consisted of the cream of the working class but now consisted of the dregs of the middle classes..ironically his son Kim Beazley junior was a prime example of the later

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