I was prompted to write what follows after reading a post on this blog by Paul G. Dellit titled Australian Democracy at a Tipping Point in which he so rightly attacks Prime Minister Abbott for his proposal to, as he Paul puts it, ‘’Pass a law that would create a precedent for the end of the rule of law in this country’’. He of course was addressing the issue of taking away a person’s citizenship.
The Prime Minister, since coming to office, whilst achieving nothing positive, has thus far only attempted to, in various ways, ruthlessly manipulate and impose a right-wing agenda on a naïve and unsuspecting public. This instance is yet another attempt to dismantle a fundamental tenet of society: the rule of law.
The fact that so many of his backbenchers support the move simply reinforces the fact that as a cohort they are all tainted with a terrorist extremism mentality equal to their leader’s. I wish they had the same enthusiasm for family violence that this year has seen two women murdered each week.
I have been writing for this blog since November 2013 and in that time have written over 200 pieces. Mostly I have attacked Tony Abbott for his callous lying, his lack of character and trustworthiness.
“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards”.
Ask yourself this:
“Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment, so ill-informed of science, so oblivious of the needs and aspirations of women, so divorced from the need to address growing inequality, and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society?”
My contention is that he is eminently unsuited to be the Prime Minister of Australia.
The egregious fanaticism of the Abbott Government is a symptom of the growing cancer that has nearly destroyed Australian democracy as we have moved rapidly toward oligarchy. U.S. Senator Sanders has characterised oligarchy succinctly as being a government controlled by a handful of the wealthiest and a concentrated corporate media dominating what the vast majority of voters get to read and hear.
However, as much as I have written about the Prime Minister, for me, my more important writing has been about the demise of our democracy.
When commenting on the attacks on our society by neo-conservative, wealthy and privileged oligarchs, it is easy to become negative and despondent, even ignorant of the totality of their purpose, and if we do, we freely concede to our rivals all the power they need.
But we cannot allow our despondency to get the better of us. We must press on because the left of politics is concerned with those who cannot help themselves whereas the right is concerned with those who can.
Thoughtful positive optimism is a worthwhile pursuit and together with consistency, truth and reasoned sound argument they form the basis of an influential, even inspirational, counter narrative.
When our voices are silent against unfair, deceitful and dishonest government we get what we deserve.
We need to digest words like these from a speech by Robert Kennedy in 1968:
“We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the Gross National Product. For the Gross National Product includes air pollution, and ambulances to clear our highways from carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missles and nuclear warheads…. It includes… the broadcasting of television programs which glorify violence to sell goods to our children.
“And if the Gross National Product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials… the Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile….”
The conservative counter to this is Margaret Thatcher’s:
“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way and the poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich”.
There are many ingredients in the recipe of a civil open enlightened functioning society. Two are interwoven and have a major influence on democratic functionality. In this piece I thought I would concentrate on two facets of society that are integral to its function and democratic survival: free speech and a free media that mutually co-exist.
So let’s look at free speech and ask why it is that people of the Bolt ilk pursue the extremes of it, or at least their interpretation of it, with such rigor. Why do they need to be more distasteful than they are already?
Do they actually want hate speech? It can only be for the pursuit of hate because that’s all the misuse of free speech can bring. Free speech does not mean it should be free from ethics like truth for example but the extreme right see it as a weapon of destruction.
I think that we can never understand the effect free speech has on people until we have suffered from the abuse of it ourselves.
We need to ask ourselves why, if indeed we live in an enlightened society, it is that we need to enshrine in law the right to abuse each other. If we were enlightened we wouldn’t do so.
Enlightened citizens would not tolerate the misuse of free speech and insist on individuals imposing their own self-discipline.
It seems to me that those on the right want unmitigated access to free speech to make up for the freedom of thought they seldom use.
The pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded. The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest.
In the United States the first constitutional amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry. In a democracy the right to free speech in given by the people through the government. Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view. Sadly, this seems to have been forgotten both here and in the United States.
The right also complain bitterly about television media bias and target the ABC while at the same time having disproportional representation on its current affairs programs. Right-wing think tank and Government advisor the IPA openly lobbies for its destruction while at the same time its representatives appear on its programs. Insiders, The Drum and Q&A come to mind. Whether the ABC is biased is a matter of opinion and I have never seen any persuasive evidence that it is.
But if it were to go what we would we be left with? Well nothing more than a right-wing propaganda machine making you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you.
In radio, with an abundance of right-wing (can you name one that is left-wing?) shock jocks, they rule the air waves. People like Alan Jones seem to take delight in being obnoxious. They enjoy huge audiences which seem to rise when they are at their most controversial.
In print ,Murdoch controls 70 per cent of distribution in the capital cities. But with the advent of new media sales have dramatically declined. To combat this it has, in order to maintain the reader’s interest, progressively become more outlandish – more tantalising – more seductive-more flirtatious-more provocative – more stunning and more enticing. And in their desire to maintain some dominance, that’s exactly what print media is doing. It has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant.
You see articles are now written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout together with carefully phrased unsupported statements. These articles have no cogency and are just right-wing (and mainly Murdoch) propaganda. Lying in any media is wrong and when they do it with deliberate intent it is society that suffers. They just seem to think they have an exemption from moral consequence. It’s a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated.
What they haven’t understood is that along the way they changed from news gathers to opinion marketers who see their opinions as newsworthy. Then they pay people like Bolt enormous sums to be as bigoted, racist and hypocritical as they can be under the guise of journalism but in writing suitable for the intelligence of thirteen year olds.
I for one can get well written and creditable opinion from blogs like The AIMN. I quit buying newspapers years ago. And news in the electronic age is available from many reputable sources.
Sometimes at my age I tire from the sustained effort required to continuously write material that confronts the extremities of the right. Then I read pieces on this blog and the intelligent comments they illicit and I am enticed to the keyboard yet again.