The coverage this week of Barack Obama’s address, at the memorial to mark the birth of Nelson Mandela 100 years ago, by the BBC, has prompted me to post this piece I wrote some months ago. A call to return to the values of ‘democracy’ only works when we know what it is, and we have confidence that it is truly represents the ‘will’ of the people…
I have written a few pieces on ‘democracy’ and how it relates to our politics but I would like to expand the concept to a broader sense.
I read the ABC and BBC online news services each day and can’t help feeling pessimistic about our current abilities to deal with the major problems facing our world.
Here is a short list, in no particular order, of some of the challenges facing humanity-
Potential war between the superpowers escalating to nuclear conflict
Climate change with its myriad of impacts
Air, land and ocean pollution
Wealth distribution and the concentration of wealth and power
Overpopulation fueling environmental degradation and loss of bio-diversity
You can add so many other issues at the local, national and international level and feel frustrated at our inability to solve them. The danger, in the present world political climate, is to look to ‘strong’ leaders to drive or enforce change. I would suggest that this is the worst way to deal with the dissatisfaction of societies. I also believe that it has been promoted by the Hollywood ‘myth’ of the superhero who comes to the rescue of the helpless masses. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most countries in the world say that they are ‘democracies’, whether it be the U.S.A, Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Israel or the Philippines and we recognise immediately that they are at best ‘flawed’ or more likely, ‘fake’. Trump, Putin, Erdogan or Duterte are no ‘messiahs’ and their paths to power are all dubious.
If the executive government is not derived from a parliament of elected representatives, and that Parliament does not accurately reflect, in its numbers, proportionally, the will of the people… then you have a flawed or ‘fake’ democracy. The danger then, is that ‘democracy’ gets the blame for a government failing to deliver, which then allows a despot to take control and ‘rescue’ the situation.
There are great examples of societies that have advanced democracies underpinned by proportional representation such as Denmark and Norway whose societies are noted for their prosperity, fairness, social justice and general happiness. Why don’t we examine their successes and implement the best features of their political and social systems? Think of how much wasted ‘human energy’ has been expended on the never ending infighting afflicting the two old parties here in Australia. How do they have time to develop policy?
I believe that the pursuit of democracy is of the highest order for humanity because it will be through the application of our collective ‘consciousness’ and ‘conscience’ that ‘We’ will solve all problems that present themselves.
There is no other way. We are the answer, if we are given a voice.
It is easy to throw our hands in the air and give in to feelings of helplessness but there is a path to democracy in Australia which doesn’t require people to fundamentally ‘change’ themselves, or to re-write the Constitution. We are so close to advancing to a higher level of democracy here in Australia, and being a world leader in this movement.
I have previously suggested that we need 4 things to progress towards ‘democracy’
1. A change to Proportional representation in the House of Reps. and all lower houses in the States and Territories.
2. A Federal body to advise the people and governments on measures to improve our democracy.
3. Education at schools, as to the value of democracy and to spark debate on how to improve our system.
4. A federal anti-corruption watch dog with wide powers to protect our democracy from threats within and outside our home, Australia.
Make these simple changes, then just stand back and watch democracy evolve and create a better world. It can start right here with us.