Wednesday, March 16, 2011

United we stand - Divided we fall

The truth of Aesop’s fable of the four oxen and the tiger, with their demise following their failure to use a combined strategy against the tiger, is starkly revealed in the failure of democracy to assist the rebels in the Libyan crisis. The democratic countries’ feeble failure to respond to the cries of the rebels for a no-fly-zone means that one more dictator gets off the hook. Democracy thus proves ridiculously incompetent to provide realistic support for a people in desperate need against a tyrant when the going gets tough. Yes, in the absence of the unity of a real democracy we fall. We fall short, we fall down on the job, we just fall.

Then again, where is the needed democratic structure of the UN which should be able to ensure that timely help can be given when so much needed? The UN is still held captive to the veto power of the permanent members (at Soviet insistence), being those which participated in the allied victory of WWII. Each member with the power of veto renders the UN practically useless for the most needed function of a world democratic government—putting right the many anti-democratic anomalies in the world today. What then is the remedy? Well, real democracy in the nations claiming that title would be a start.

The myth of the need for strong leaders to make the ‘tough’ decisions must be laid to rest. It is not strong leaders we need. In Australia today, there are four (maybe five) leaders touted by various groups as the answer to the nation’s problems. So party power interminably delays and distorts national decisions. The ‘too-hard’ basket overflows, to the discouragement and demoralisation of the nation.

We need parliamentary government based on the ballot - real democracy.

Australia could have been a world leader in a success story of efficient, progressive democratic government, making good progress in all areas, instead of the uselessness of the leadership squabbles which so preoccupy parliament, the media and popular attention. What a mess, compared with the world leader Australia could be.

We, who are each entrusted with a secret vote, are afraid to release our members to the same freedom in parliament, apparently being too thick to realise that as soon as they are made free in parliament they become the virtual property of their constituents - accountable to us. We are then in a position to ensure that that occurs.

In 1856, in Victoria, the diehard conservatives feared that the free vote would create chaos. It didn’t. It led to an era of prosperous democratic government. The chaos arrived later, with federation and the advent of party politics.

The fact is that we, politically, are just too mentally and spiritually lazy to embrace the advantages of a real, working democracy. The issue is whether we will face up to the responsibility of personal involvement, in holding our representatives to account — possibly once a month in public meeting! It is just a question of faith in ourselves and our ‘fellow Australians’ - perhaps really in God - thinking about the issues — as seriously as we think about sport! Or home and garden!