Thursday, June 21, 2012

National Revival and Unity

Tim Colebatch (The age 19/6/12) writes that a sense of common purpose that we had with Menzies, and Hawke was lost under Whitlam. Why so?

Certainly, Whitlam had an agenda to ‘fix’ society, by a Labor government long out of office and alive with a ‘left’ agenda to be achieved in short time. Menzies and Hawke were ‘in touch’ with the wider electorate, including the ‘forgotten people – the middle class. While Menzies was an astute politician Hawke had a wide humanitarian appeal with ‘common touch’.

Howard was too authoritarian with roots in business, while Rudd failed to be a team man. Will Gillard succeed? Only the next election will prove whether her strength of purpose is matched by a political acumen in the taut politics of the hung parliament and the ‘relentless’ pressure of Abbott and crew in their pursuit of power.

Where shall we go? What shall we do?

Our dependence on leaders is our and their downfall. That’s the party system. They do as they will because we let them. Then we punish them by replacing them when they don’t satisfy. The result is short-termism in government as they look nervously towards the next election. And so it goes on, an on – see saw government.

Is there an answer? If you have followed this blog you will by now be quite clear about the answer! A national revival and unity reached by the invasion of our hapless parliaments.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our deteriorating democracy

Tim Soutphommasane writes (Age 18/6/12) with some alarm that the trend in our democracy has degenerated into a materialistic low with money and wealth dominating our democracy. Noting that this phenomenon tends to be cyclical which Tim Colebatch (The Age 19/6/12) attributes to the varying quality of past leaders.

That our democracy has degenerated into a competition to find the best leaders to advance our economic status is sad, when we remember that one ex judge believed that the promise of democracy is to enhance morality. Tim Sout notes that the ‘…expansion in education has not resulted in greater political knowledge or civic virtue’. Why not?

Both commentators are disturbed by the fallen standard of contemporary political debate, which they describe in such terms as ‘toxic’, ‘poisonous’ and ‘strident’. Furthermore, cartoonists seem free to express extreme contempt at our elected leaders.

What is clear is that ‘we get the government that we deserve’. If democracy is government ‘by’ the people as Abraham Lincoln observed, and I believe he was spot on, clearly we have failed to keep up with our responsibility to participate in government, and politicians do what they do because they can. They know that material benefit is influential in our midst.

Colebatch heads his article ‘In not so joyful strains’ clearly suggesting that national attitudes expressed in our national anthem have been undermined. There can be no joy when the earlier values of mateship and sacrifice have been swept up in materialistic fear and conflict. After all, our wealth owes more to our lucky mineral resources than the hard, often harsh, experience of the past, which fed a modest personal pride in our country.

We do indeed need a new vision for our country, one which calls for, and builds on, our past national strengths and successes. Our leaders must challenge and inspire us.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Democracy unpopular!

Democracy unpopular in a poll! Is it any wonder, when the ballot is still missing from our parliaments?

Some think that such a parliament could not make decisions. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

At every election millions of us go to the polls to elect our 150 representatives - by secret ballot - quietly and with finality (despite distorting electoral factors beyond our control).

Why should we believe that good policies could not stand out in the parliamentary debate, each gaining a winning margin of independent secret ballot votes - especially with constituents nudging members in public forums.

Is it that hard to understand? Where is the will for change to a much better democracy??

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Australia – when I am gone.

A series of articles forecasting inevitable changes in our society.

Our presently fragmented society will merge into a unified society in which differing religious and other beliefs will exist but not wreck the unity of our country, being all subservient to 'government by the people'. It will have the common themes of ‘what is good for us all in a growing multicultural population, and ‘what can we do to uplift the wellbeing of other, backward nations’. How will all this occur? While mankind has the inherent ability to think, leading to commonsense solutions. In brief, commonsense will need to become much more common.

All parliaments will be conducted without political parties which used to stir up selfish attitudes and partisan contention. State and federal parliament relationships will function in a supportive and cooperative model, crossing the dots with better linkage of policy formulation. One such radical rearrangement - See National Revival website – has important potential.

Communities will all be represented in our parliaments by independent members who, by regular forum consultation, will encourage the people to participate, resulting in a constant confidence in our parliaments to deal with stubborn problems - within the context of the above-mentioned aims and principles of unity and responsibility,. Loud and aggressive voices will have been already quietened by the civilised, face-to-face discussion in the regular forums generated by all the independent members. Frank analysis and open discussion of all controversial matters will create a close working relationship between members and constituents, giving each community a ‘friend at court’. The people will be reassured with confidence and respect for the democratic process, while each satisfactorily performing member could be unopposed at the next (very quiet) election.
Forum discussion will retain room for any citizen’s concerns to be ardently, even passionately advocated where necessary, to progress the community to effective conclusions, without the danger of loud voices (or heavy money) ever dominating the ultimate policies to be represented in parliament. In the face of the new community involvement with the independent representatives, the power of local media to wield political influence will fail.
Economic factors which trigger street crime, youth suicide, domestic tensions, drug and problem alcohol involvement, will all come under public airing and scrutiny in local meetings, developing a strong and caring community life.

More to come – crisis in our parliaments!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Letter to the Prime MInister

Dear Prime Minister, It is surely time to oust the party system which gave us the problem of the hung parliament and is now bringing Australian democracy to such disrepute as to hear our people’s parliament described as ‘toxic’, and even ‘ferocious’, on tonight’s 7.30 report.

You have a fragile hold on power but there is something you could do to commend to the people a reform that will rattle the teeth of all opponents of real democracy.

May I therefore respectfully request that you seriously consider implementing a referendum to permanently establish an electronic secret voting system for every vote of members in parliament. (Goodbye party politics!)

Ballots in our parliament will confine members to clean, issue-based debate, creating decisions by parliament itself—pure parliamentary democracy. Parliamentary debate will centre on policy persuasion, (not personalities), often being intense, even passionate, in advocacy for needed change. Decisions by ballot will be made without undue delay, accurately reflecting public opinion, as members enjoy a new freedom to consult with constituents and powerfully represent them in parliament.

There is more. Parties may come and go, but with the secret ballot established in our parliament(s), only the members, (dependent solely on their constituents for re-election) will come and go. Parliament itself being ‘the government’ could never fall.

Ministers? The members themselves will choose them—by ballot!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Christians and politics!

Some people say that we need more Christians in politics! That’s what’s wrong! Sorry! That’s not the answer! There are quite a variety of ‘Christians’ in our parliaments, many no doubt struggling with its dominating partisan nature, but some apparently not!

Quote from ebook: ‘OUT WITH THE PARTIES – A PARLIAMENTARY REVOLUTION' ‘It is evident that party MPs are often quite troubled by the pressure to conform. On one occasion, Brigadier Jim Wallis AM, SAS retired, Executive Chairman of the Australian Christian Lobby, related how one MP friend actually broke down while confiding to him how he had felt when forced by his party to go against his conscience on a critical issue. With a member of conscience in tears, there has to be something radically wrong with our politics.' Quite!

Furthermore, any reading of the New Testament could not miss the condemnation of partisanship in both the gospels and the epistles, with a plain and exclusive emphasis on the unity of the love of God in Christ. Need I say more?

Except perhaps to add that: ‘the love of power is the love of self, but the love of democracy is the love of others’.

Is there not therefore a very real question hanging over our politics, with many participants professing Christian belief, but nonetheless engaging in the pursuit of party power?

(However, a genuine democracy requires the participation of all who will love God and neighbour before self.)

Of: FORUMS and forums

There are serious gaps in the practice of our theoretical democracy, with government OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people, (government BY the people being perhaps of foremost importance, because without that, the OF and the FOR are compromised). Thus, the deficiency in government BY the people means that government OF and FOR the people just cannot happen, because of the conflicting pressures of ungoverned interests.

So, what do we do? The reason for democracy’s failure is the absence of realistic forums, for which FORUMS miss the points completely – and perhaps also deliberately.

A few days ago our local member completed a run of FORUMS in the community, in which influential groups were able to put their case with the local member presiding. But it was about their needs and his ability to help, if they voted for him! The last, with the leader of the opposition speaking, was confined in numbers to a limited number who had paid a fee for their place. Whether political donations were sought in addition – ‘cash for influence’ I do not know, but wonder!

These ‘forums’ were not convened with free access for dissidents in mind and cannot in any sense be seen as facilitating a process of government BY the people. They represented a continuation of the political disease of party politics. So, what is the solution?

The elimination of this disease depends entirely on removal of its root cause – the system of all members voting openly in our parliaments which enables and supports the venal party system.

A change to a secret ballot for all decisions in parliament is all that is required to change the representation of all members from party to independent.

Clearly, all the members would then be obliged to run free forums regularly in each electorate, soon becoming loyal supporters of constituents’ views in their forums’ free exchange of ideas about the process of government. They will quickly establish an ongoing rapport with the people, forming a vital link between people and parliament which would soon reconstitute government as government BY the people. A true government OF the people and FOR the people is thus assured as well. Can anyone dispute the validity of this claim?

Your view is welcome -

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Forum bullying

Andrew Stafford (the Age 12/4 Opinion) laments a ‘culture of widespread online bullying ... (that) reminds him of children’s playgrounds, where the bullies always win – because everyone else scarpers’.

To have a forum, online or other, is a decidedly good thing (since democracy must involve the people), but the continued strong bullying influence of the mindless reminds us that democracy needs safeguards for the less able to assert their intelligent influence. One well-known service group, the Rotary Club, practices self-discipline, I believe, with the motto: ‘Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary’, but on the other hand, Stafford sees ‘the nation’s political and personal manners (as) increasingly coarse’.

We are still a long way short of the social imperative of civility in public discourse to freely establish truth in the public arena, and our basic political structure is aggravating the problems rather than helping, money often being the bully’s tool. Thus, our urgent social/political need is for forums run by independent MPs who will be vulnerable and ensure fair play – with equal access for everyone. On his/her head be it then if that does not happen! Is this a pipe-dream? Absolutely, until we have ballots ruling in our parliaments and all members independent, it cannot happen.

Our local member, with overwhelming credentials, has been round and round the electorate, being interviewed in local forums organised by various interests, all no doubt with hopes of benefits from a future government by his party, in which he will undoubtedly be a star performer. This Friday he will run a forum himself with the leader of the opposition as the chief attraction. Great, another public forum! But do you get it? It will be a top-down session if ever there was one, instead of the ‘grassroots’ able to be actively contributing, whatever those views might be.

We need to have such level discussion forums everywhere, in which anyone will have an equal say, with the local member having a vested interest in seeing that that happens or on his/her head be it if that does not happen! That is the kind of real democracy that will be ‘morally uplifting’ for all. Your thoughts? Email:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Democracy's serious failure No. 2 - The people!

None but the people can further the cause of democracy. It is government by the people. Surprise surprise, the people know enough about it to whinge about how politicians mess up politics but don't really want to take any personal responsibility. That's a pity because, without the intervention of a substantial number in the community there will never be any change. We will continue down the sane worn out path of party politics. The requirement is for a critical mass to get reform rolling. There does not seem to be any possibility of the social media coming to the 'party' for this.

Actually we toyed with the idea of a Secret Ballot Party but membership stalled. Such a 'party' would have no other policies then the reform and all candidates under the SBP banner would be entirely independent. However the idea did not persist and failed to capture the imagination of members.

The publication of the new ebook UT WITH THE PARTIES - a PARLIAMENTARY REVOLUTION'; appears to be slow to take off at the moment.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Democracy's serious problem No 1 - conflict-based leadership

America has a problem. The leadership contest. The party primaries system to choose party candidates drags on for months, destabilising business planning. Additionally the system attracts huge money to assist candidates so money not quality dominates the choice of a party candidate at the subsequent election. So far we are lucky that this system does not apply here but there are murmurs because we too have leader problems. They are endemic in any party system of government because, so far, peoples have not the wit to realise that parties are not compatible with democracy, and never will be. Check for more information on the democratic advance which could and ought to be, in so-called democratic countries, let alone the dictatorships and oligarchies that rule so many other countries.

Democracy should be about decisions made by the people for the people as in Athens long ago, in public gatherings. We need to do this again and dispense with the leaders. They are the source of all the trouble and are the instigators of every conflict, in many places, so often armed with guns and bombs.

For example, our parliament is experiencing at present a particularly odious conflict between the ruling and opposition parties in the lead up to another election. The hung parliament of the last election was only rescued by some independents choosing the present party in power to form a stable government. Deposing the previous party leaders and Prime Minister has not cleared the air and the Opposition leader is having a ball, joyfully attacking the ongoing leader in most repulsive performances every day. All this is quite foreign to democracy of any claim to reality. It simply could never happen under the reform long proposed by followers of the secret ballots in parliament concept detailed in the above site.

For example, there would be no parties, all the members being independent and the prime minister and other ministers being elected by the members. With all decisions being made by ballot of the members, all power would be confined to the ballot of the members on every debated issue. Democracy would soon be complete with the members returning to establish their relationship with constituents by holding regular local forums, connecting the people to parliament in a democratic structure of rising people power.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Retrospective Legislation

It appears that, in Victoria, many criminal cases are in jeopardy because affidavits have not been sworn in relation to search evidence faxed from police stations as required by law. The government, naturally, proposes to enact suitable legislation to ensure justice can proceed. Interesting! Lawyers exiting the courts are seen on TV saying that they do not favour retrospective legislation, but now it is necessary. Usually, any mention of retrospective legislation produces a hue and cry from many interests. At a time when tax avoidance became rife the Whitlam government proposed to introduce retrospective legislation so that new schemes to avoid tax could be legislated retrospectively against them when they became evident. The Democrats, with power in the Senate, could well have supported such legislation. However the latecomer to the Democrat fold, Don Chipp, reflecting his earlier connections with the Liberal Party, personally vetoed it, although the Democrat's mode was for the members to approve policies. In this case it was not. So we have two situations where retrospective legislation is acceptable in one case but not in the other.

Plainly, retrospective legislation, which is seen as a dirty word in official circles, is not a dirty word. It all depends on the situation which gives rise to its application. If it is tax (to fill the government coffers - a really dirty word), then the idea of retrospective legislation is seen as totally unacceptable to business, as business planning becomes more difficult. No doubt this is an understandable principle, in general, but hardly so when legitimate tax is being dodged by tricks. Parliaments should be able to clearly distinguish between true business arrangements and phony ones. But, of course, the lack of real ethics in party politics prevents us from fully trusting parliaments with retrospective legislation.

However when we see taxation in the light of the responsibilities of government and its funds to meet them, our view of tax avoidance may very well be different. Conservative politics prefers tax cuts at the high end of the tax scales and sympathises with minimising tax which is legal but far from ethical.

If democracy were complete, with genuine rule of the people, parliament could be entrusted with the ability to use retrospective legislation more widely, and the practice of clever lawyers and accountants ferreting out weaknesses in legislation to enable some of the wealthiest in the land to pay little, if any, tax would end.

A corollary to this unethical weakness in parliament is that government comes to be regarded as having nothing to do with morality. That is hardly surprising when money makes its own rules, demolishing democracy.

********************* The old Australian song 'Waltzing Matilda' comes to mind! Its origins shrouded in history, it has slightly different versions. At various times throughout Australia's comparatively brief history, there have been quite a few really 'doing it tough', for whom this ballad is an emotive reminder. Its history can be found at, with explanations of its strange wording, and the sometimes harsh conditions conditions which brought it into being.

Thus, unemployed men, 'tramps', also known as 'swaggies' often visited the same homes, year after year, where a meal 'out the back', was gratefully enjoyed. Without such kindness these men would have been driven to theft of food, and probably gaol. I well remember one such in my young days. He was known by us as 'Dirty Weather'. He had little on which to base conversation and this was a yearly comment! After the meal he would shoulder his 'Matilda', or bedroll and make his way elsewhere, perhaps many miles away, hopefully to another such home. The photograph of a 'swaggie' in the above site could well have been him!

Democracy still has a way to go to remedy the fallout from our economic ups and downs. 'Life was not meant to be easy' - as someone once said, but the encouragement of the few with targeted help is sometimes an essential on our way to a 'perfect democratic society!

So, how easy it is for genuine democracy to become subverted!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What a mess!

The current stoush between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and the enmity behind it all will damage our country, leading nowhere, but may annihilate the Labor Party. That the ballot on Monday will only give a temporary reprieve is clear. The half-hearted assurance by Rudd that he will not pursue the prime - minister-ship should he lose the ballot, quite clearly means that the Monday ballot will not achieve longer term settlement for him. He is too deeply convinced that he has a public following and a major role to play. But the Labor Party does not want an ambition-obsessed leader with little respect for the rest of the team.

What sticks our plainly is that the factional system in the Labor Party breeds division and enmity very similar to the division in the community created by the political parties.

This messed-up state of democracy in Australia is proof positive that factions and party politics do not mix with any definition of democracy. Surely this nonsense has no relationship to the people at large except to divide and dis-empower us all. Where is self government - the government which Abraham Lincoln so usefully defined as government OF the people, spelling out the need for government to be strong, to give good order and discipline, government BY the people which determines that powerful people must never be all-powerful in government, and government FOR the people which is to ensure that the needs of all the people will be duly respected.

In other words, while the majority must rule, there is to always be the latitude for the needs of the weak to receive the consideration that they deserve. There is no doubt that Lincoln's definition echoes the deeply respected 'Golden Rule': 'Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you'.

In Australia we are fond of the expression 'a fair go' which also sums it up - meaning a caring society. And there is no good reason that progress will ever be hindered by giving everyone a fair go. NO, that is the very climate in which everyone can contribute their best, making a prosperous, fair society.

But it's quite clear that in the absence of the ballot ruling in parliament, to give the discipline of a level political playing field with independence for all members, and local forums in which the people can have a part to play, we shall continue to slide backwards.

God help us all - until we can see the people rise up to claim their true democratic governing role, in a real parliamentary democracy, upheld by the operation of the ballot in all our parliaments.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Israel & Iran - subtext Palestine

Somone has said that relations between nations are affected by the same attitudes which are evident in human relations - e.g. aggression begets aggression. Absolutely!

It is obvious that the Iranian zeal for nuclear arms is a reaction to the aggressive stance of the world towards her, especially the US and Israel. Pakistan has nuclear weapons so does India, but apparently that's OK because the Israel has no argument with them. Friends can have the weapons but unsurprisingly, not a country with which there is enmity. Clearly it is the Palestinian issue, as Osama bin Laden once asserted. Can force end this old contest? No way! Israel has virtually ensured that it will never be resolved.

What is surprising is that the Arab states, generally Sunni Islam dictatorships, rather than Shiite, have kept out of the argument, presumably being more content to be happy producers of oil wealth. They know which side their bread is buttered!

But, a word of warning! With the Arab Spring on the move in various Arab countries the status quo may well, in time, change dramatically.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Democracy - What a shambles!

What a shambles democracy is, the way we currently play this game. But it’s no game, while arguing between the opposed interests grows heated. And where is the logic and the calm reasoning? While there is, in the end, a rational solution to every problem, can it be found in this climate of antagonism, which is generated by the fear that bad solutions might triumph.

Are we, as a people, really happy with this, so gross, system? Why are we so willing to put up with a system operating so dysfunctionally? Of what are we so afraid?
Would a move to a ballot parliament with MPs all independent be so difficult?

Let’s consider.
Firstly, representatives will engage transparently and honestly with constituents, their careers being entirely dependent on their relationships with them. Initially perhaps difficult, they would soon grow in stature as statesmen/women, aware that other interests, beyond the local, must not be ignored.
Next, what extra burdens would we, as citizens, have to bear? The answer is ‘None’, unless we should want to.

What options would there be for anyone wanting to have some involvement?
1. The opportunity to attend regular community sessions for discussion of any public matter, conducted by the sitting member.
2. Participation in discussions with informed and intelligent constituents, together seeking good answers to difficult questions.
3. Learning to understand and concede the validity of the needs (and possibly the opinions!) of others, in a context of confidence in the fairness of the process and the increasing success of calm and logical debate.

With secret ballots in parliament all members will be independent, free to act in parliament on behalf of their constituents - and, as true statesmen, on issues of national interest and importance.

See FAQs

Iran/ Israel standoff. - "How to Create an Enemy,"

"How to Create an Enemy," by Sam Keen, an American philosopher and professor, From 'The Globalist' Start with an empty canvas Sketch in broad outline the forms of men, women, and children. Dip into the unconsciousness well of your own disowned darkness with a wide brush and strain the strangers with the sinister hue of the shadow. Trace onto the face of the enemy the greed, hatred, carelessness you dare not claim as your own. Obscure the sweet individuality of each face. Erase all hints of the myriad loves, hopes, fears that play through the kaleidoscope of every infinite heart. Twist the smile until it forms the downward arc of cruelty. Strip flesh from bone until only the abstract skeleton of death remains. Exaggerate each feature until man is metamorphosized into beast, vermin, insect. Fill in the background with malignant figures from ancient nightmares — devils, demons, myrmidons of evil. When your icon of the enemy is complete you will be able to kill without guilt, slaughter without shame. The thing you destroy will have become merely an enemy of God, an impediment to the sacred dialectic of history.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Probably, the greatest damage to life in all its dimensions, including the problems of democracy, is the human factor of arrogance. It is the converse and the enemy of that self-giving love which is the basic human ingredient on which life in all its fullness must be founded.

Activism is democracy's failure.

Government is plagued with many problems - so many that delays abound and governments take far too long to solve the problems with good solutions. Decisions are uniformly unsatisfactory, for the simple reason that the people, whose cooperation and acceptance is vital for difficult decisions, are excluded from participation and the involvement necessary to be part of the background discussion which would unite the people with and behind government.

It is assumed that 'activism' is both legitimate, necessary and important - a necessity to get governments to attend to the peoples' problems. Genuine participatory democracy

Under the existing circumstances one could not be surprised but, isn't that a terrible indictment on the state of democratic government and the disconnect between a caring people and their government. So we have to rely on loud noise in the streets for harassed government to be pushed to act.

It is the isolation of the people from government by the party system - and their dis-empowerment, that produces a defeatist despair in the face of so many problems which cannot be truly solved without the widespread concurrence of the community. Retired Judge Gebhardt once said that democracy is a moralising force in the community. But it is plain that aspect of democracy is working feebly and incompetently at best, when we consider the crime among youth, the irresponsible, and often fatal, manner in which cars are seen (or just heard in the wee small hours) hurtling through our streets.

Moreover, law abiding citizens are now less inclined to be involved in incidents for safety sake. Gebhardt's viewpoint is underlined by the comment of Al Smith, Governor of New York in 1923: 'The solution to problems of democracy is (simply) more democracy!'

The point is plain. Our democracy's intimate connection between people and government has never materialised to bring the community unity that can extend the moralising process community wide. Gangs and murderers should be terrified, not law abiding citizens. The Secret Ballot must be adopted in our parliaments to settle all debates - ASAP It is essential to a real democracy, to give a live connection with the people constantly by means of a much more genuine representation be 150 independents!

A curious thought

Unlike family life, our politics is based on competition. Families are created by a common interest, so that all of the group find the cooperation of unselfish love benefits the whole with the example and encouragement it gives.

But, ‘where there is money there is a will’ as wealthy families regularly attest. The love of money is the root of all evil, for money is power.
In politics there can be differing convictions as to what is best for the country. For some, this is based on a constructive rivalry - competition that is genuinely friendly. Fair enough if it is, but is it? And why isn’t it?

Just saw a Getup video of a secret crisis meeting of the mining industry relating how the press could be manipulated to their advantage through the power of money. With their exponential exports pushing the dollar high, high wage rates ruining Australian manufacture, their greed knows no bounds.

In Athens, politics was a family-like community affair, in which everyone joined in to settle each issue. That is still our ideal isn’t it? Only the people can do this by a rejuvenation of ‘representation of the people’ to the exclusion of the power of the press, lobby, pressure groups and parties to dominate politics and ruin the power and authority of parliament and the people.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Failing democracy

Our politics has fallen so short of the ideal of democracy that there is little conviction that there is an ideal to which we should aim.

There is an interesting little incident, in the James Herriot series about his experience as a veterinary surgeon In Yorkshire years ago. So the story goes, an old man’s dog was lying under his chair in the pub. His eyes were sore and dirty with infection. ‘Always been the same – a ‘cold’ in the eyes’, the old man constantly repeated.

But Herriot could see that a simple operation to reform the eyelids, so that the in-growing eyelashes would not irritate the eyes, was all that was required. Although tempted to offer help, Herriot decided he could not just barge in and do it at no-cost. However the idea caught on with the pub’s patrons and they agreed amongst themselves to meet the cost.

So, down to the surgery they all went and gathered round to watch the operation, which was straight forward and soon done without incident, (except that the biggest and toughest of them slid gracefully to the floor in a dead faint!)

Here we see a democratic forum in action. Wide public forums are the missing link in our failing democracy.

The leadership cult is a mirage, a travesty of democracy - sidelining the people from active involvement in the system and preventing democracy’s essence - ‘government of, by, and for, the people.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Opportunity for political and social renewal - The Age!

The Age’s contribution to ‘political and social renewal’ in its New Year editorial 2/1/12 is both pathetic and hypocritical. Supposedly an independent newspaper it has refused to support any serious reform over many years, despite knowing full well that our democracy is completely stymied by the politics of political parties.
Lamenting the absence of ‘commitment and imagination’ from our political dialogue, the Age offers nothing but the hidden obstruction of censorship to realistic change. A simple change required to undo the stranglehold of democracy of the political parties, the Age does not, will not support. The change must come from the people just as the quiet Vaclav Havel notes in his 1990 speech as President of the Czech Republic

The following is a portion of his speech, broadcast, 1st Jan 1990, following the creation of the separate Czech and Slovak republics. Vaclav Havel was a world acclaimed writer, playwright, and statesman, with the quotes: 'contaminated moral environment', and 'People, your government has returned to you!' famous on many websites:

‘... we live in a contaminated moral environment. We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore one another, to care only about ourselves. Concepts such as love, friendship, compassion, humility or forgiveness lost their depth and dimension, and for many of us they represented only psychological peculiarities, or they resembled gone-astray greetings from ancient times, a little ridiculous in the era of computers and spaceships. Only a few of us were able to cry out loudly that the powers that be should not be all-powerful and that the special farms, which produced ecologically pure and top-quality food just for them, should send their produce to schools, children's homes and hospitals if our agriculture was unable to offer them to all.

The previous regime - armed with its arrogant and intolerant ideology - reduced man to a force of production, and nature to a tool of production. In this it attacked both their very substance and their mutual relationship. It reduced gifted and autonomous people, skillfully working in their own country, to the nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy and stinking machine, whose real meaning was not clear to anyone. It could not do more than slowly but inexorably wear out itself and all its nuts and bolts.

When I talk about the contaminated moral atmosphere, I am not talking just about the gentlemen who eat organic vegetables and do not look out of the plane windows. I am talking about all of us. We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unchangeable fact and thus helped to perpetuate it. In other words, we are all - though naturally to differing extents - responsible for the operation of the totalitarian machinery. None of us is just its victim. We are all also its co-creators.

Why do I say this? It would be very unreasonable to understand the sad legacy of the last forty years as something alien, which some distant relative bequeathed to us. On the contrary, we have to accept this legacy as a sin we committed against ourselves. If we accept it as such, we will understand that it is up to us all, and up to us alone to do something about it. We cannot blame the previous rulers for everything, not only because it would be untrue, but also because it would blunt the duty that each of us faces today: namely, the obligation to act independently, freely, reasonably and quickly. Let us not be mistaken: the best government in the world, the best parliament and the best president, cannot achieve much on their own. And it would be wrong to expect a general remedy from them alone. Freedom and democracy include participation and therefore responsibility from us all.

If we realize this, then all the horrors that the new Czechoslovak democracy inherited will cease to appear so terrible. If we realize this, hope will return to our hearts.
Self-confidence is not pride. Just the contrary: only a person or a nation that is self-confident, in the best sense of the word, is capable of listening to others, accepting them as equals, forgiving its enemies and regretting its own guilt. Let us try to introduce this kind of self-confidence into the life of our community and, as nations, into our behavior on the international stage. Only thus can we restore our self-respect and our respect for one another as well as the respect of other nations.
Our state should never again be an appendage or a poor relative of anyone else. It is true that we must accept and learn many things from others, but we must do this in the future as their equal partners, who also have something to offer.

Our first president wrote: "Jesus, not Caesar." In this he followed our philosophers Chelick_ and Komensk_. I dare to say that we may even have an opportunity to spread this idea further and introduce a new element into European and global politics. Our country, if that is what we want, can now permanently radiate love, understanding, the power of the spirit and of ideas. It is precisely this glow that we can offer as our specific contribution to international politics.

Masaryk* based his politics on morality. Let us try, in a new time and in a new way, to restore this concept of politics. Let us teach ourselves and others that politics should be an expression of a desire to contribute to the happiness of the community rather than of a need to cheat or rape the community. Let us teach ourselves and others that politics can be not simply the art of the possible, especially if this means the art of speculation, calculation, intrigue, secret deals and pragmatic maneuvering, but that it can also be the art of the impossible, that is, the art of improving ourselves and the world.

Our main enemy today is our own bad traits: indifference to the common good, vanity, personal ambition, selfishness, and rivalry. The main struggle will have to be fought on this field.

There are free elections and an election campaign ahead of us. Let us not allow this struggle to dirty the so-far clean face of our gentle revolution. Let us not allow the sympathies of the world, which we have won so fast, to be equally rapidly lost through our becoming entangled in the jungle of skirmishes for power. Let us not allow the desire to serve oneself to bloom once again under the stately garb of the desire to serve the common good. It is not really important now which party, club or group prevails in the elections. The important thing is that the winners will be the best of us, in the moral, civic, political and professional sense, regardless of their political affiliations. The future policies and prestige of our state will depend on the personalities we select, and later, elect to our representative bodies.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I want to be a president who will speak less and work more. To be a president who will not only look out of the windows of his airplane but who, first and foremost, will always be present among his fellow citizens and listen to them well.

You may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply: I dream of a republic independent, free, and democratic, of a republic economically prosperous and yet socially just; in short, of a humane republic that serves the individual and that therefore holds the hope that the individual will serve it in turn. Of a republic of well-rounded people, because without such people it is impossible to solve any of our problems -- human, economic, ecological, social, or political. The most distinguished of my predecessors opened his first speech with a quotation from the great Czech educator Komensk_. Allow me to conclude my first speech with my own paraphrase of the same statement:

People, your government has returned to you!