Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Shrinking Democracy - re Age article

To Professor George Williams
Good to see your article in today's Age. The question is - what can be done about it?

This party has done a little bit but, despite the wealth of critism and unhappiness at the deterioration of our politics toward authoritarian government, there is little real response, with so many hoodwinked, believing the propaganda about our low unemployment and our 'healthy' economy.
(What happens when the family jewels run out in a generation of so. Who
really cares?)

The introduction of 'our democracy' to other countries is a joke. Is it a blessing to the people in America? Here in Australia? No way.

Has it worked in New Guinea? It's a mess. Is it working in East Timor? That's a mess too. Is it working out in Iraq? No that's a mess too.

What can be wrong? Simple. The basis of our notion of democracy has a fundamental flaw - party politics.
It is common in political writings to recognise that there is a serious problem, but no acknowledgement that our politics, structured around a party system is not real democracy at all - a hybrid - and disastrous.
Some have even said that there can be no democracy without parties.
'Blind leaders of the blind'! The tragedy of this view is that political parties have proved the death of democracy.

Let's not be deceived. If the rot were not slow people might wake up but, like the frog on the stove, we are being gradually boiled helpless.
We are being carefully conditioned for authoritarian government.
To compare our drift to prewar Germany might seem passe, but the trend is very clear. Our concept of democracy is a house of cards, collapsing where it is most needed.

Our devotion to 'democracy' is in name only. The Eureka miners would be horrified. Their deaths gave us a start in the right direction - with the ballot for elections. This revolutionary idea was bitterly resisted, as threatening chaos. Wrong. It opened the way for a period of real progress and prosperity which made Victoria the leading state, able to handle well the turmoil of the gold rush and the wealth of the people.
There is much turmoil ahead for us and we need the connection of the disconnected public, with real representation, not by parties but by representatives. Only the ballot in parliament can recreate the power of a politically connected people.
Basil Smith
03 9800 2561

Saturday, June 03, 2006

East Timor & Iraq, and Democracy

The breakdown of struggling ‘democracy’ in East Timor (and Iraq) prompts the question whether ‘European’ democracy is actually suitable for less developed countries.

The object of government, and the measure of its success, is the combined achievement of the community through popular cooperation.

The cooperation of the people may be achieved in:
1. Dictatorship, by leadership, propaganda and coercion – clearly a no-no.
2. A two-or-more-party state by leadership, propaganda and by appeal to the acquisitive instincts of the people. However, the problems engendered by the escalating consumption of (and competition for) global resources and the resulting environmental problems must soon force a revision of this basis of government.
3. A non-party state (e.g. Britain in wartime) by leadership and the willing sacrifices of the people – clearly the ideal in view of the damage to our environment by our self-centred consumerism. However, we willing need to use our intelligence to find the secret of non-party government without waiting for crisis, which might indeed be international chaos.
In A.A.Milne’s classic tale of Winnie-The-Pooh, ‘Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs … bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head … It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.’
Party politics to a T. There is another way for us – ballots in our parliaments.

We need better democracy, but few are listening. Especially do we need to be aware that a future crisis, quite on the ‘cards’, is more likely to produce a to dictatorship than a better democracy. Machiavelli mentioned the need for concentration of power in government in time of war. Britain’s monarchy enabled the smooth wartime transition from party government to Grand Coalition. This cannot be regarded as a normal to democracies generally.
We need to stop ‘bumping down the stairs and think’. This is not an option.