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DEMOCRATIC REVIEW AND PROSPECT November 21, 2014

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Humankind/Planet Earth.
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Australian democracy is in crisis. The crisis is exemplified in the observations and comments of the prime minister.

He has made statements that are gross, even to the point of outright lies. This video shown:

The purpose of democratic discussion, conversation, dialogue is to discover “the spirit of the meeting”, to identify the truth, or to define the common good. Is Tony Abbott a product of the system as it has developed? Should there be a constitutional amendment and referendum to impose summary dismissal on those who engage in systematic and repeated lying? There is the suspicion the statements made by Tony Abbott were intentional as a political method, or negligent misrepresentation. What are the reasonable allowances that might be made?

The proposal might seem extreme, yet consider the requirements in the Constitution of:

Section 44 – Disqualification

Any person who-
(i.) Is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights & privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power [The UK in Sue v Hill was designated as a foreign power]: or

(ii.) Is attained of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer: or

(iii.) Is an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent: or

(iv.) Holds any office of profit under the Crown, or any pension payable during the pleasure of the Crown out of any of the revenues of the Commonwealth: or

(v.) Has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company consisting of more than twenty-five persons:
shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

But sub-section iv. does not apply to the office of any of the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth, or of any of the Queen’s Ministers for a State, or to the receipt of pay, half pay, or a pension, by any person as an officer or member of the Queen’s navy or army, or to the receipt of pay as an officer or member of the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth by any person whose services are not wholly employed by the Commonwealth.

The Citizenship Act provides for an oath or affirmation, which is:

As an Australian citizen
“I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect,
and whose laws I uphold and obey.”

Should new citizens to required to affirm their democratic beliefs, when the prime minister perhaps implcitly believes in the theory of the noble lie.

For such an office holder, is not intentional and deliberate lying worst than treason? The democratic process should reveal deception and deliberate untruths. The citizens in this democracy have apparently abrogated their responsibilities in engage in dialectic to the media who are mostly representative of social and economic interests. The others, including scapegoats, in the social landscape are aligned by cultural paradigm. In Australia this means integration through history of a colonial settler society. So for example, my ancestors who lived in Leederville, Perth had no sense of the value that Lake Monger represented to the indigenous people, who had been dispossessed – if my particular and close informant is reliable.

Paul Keating described Tony Abbott as an intellectual nobody without a thought-out policy positions:

It has to be said that Paul Keating got Tony Abbott right. For example, ABC News recently reported:

During a breakfast for British prime minister David Cameron in Sydney this morning, Mr Abbott made a speech about infrastructure and noted the “extraordinary partnership” between the two countries since the arrival of the First Fleet.
“As we look around this glorious city, as we see the extraordinary development, it’s hard to think that back in 1788 it was nothing but bush,” Mr Abbott said.

To quote myself:

Do the majority of people in Australia share the world view and cultural paradigm of Tony Abbott, or is his promotion to prime minister a failure of democracy, in the deepest sense? We may simply be failing by talking past one another, if indeed we are, as citizens, not engaged in democratic conversation. I suppose it may be considered that some assumptions are irreconcilable, and there is no independent standard of truth. This would make democracy, hard to impossible. No person should have attained the highest political office without first engaging in a full and open conversation with the people at large. Of course, this seldom happens, and to that extent it is not Abbott’s fault, rather his responsibility.

I quote myself, not because I think what I say has any particular merit, but because we all should review to what extent we are meeting our responsibilities as citizens of this democratic republic. I am not sure why this post was taken down

What does it mean to be a citizen, or a subject, was a question mostly ignored during the course of the Republic debate and campaign in 1999. In 1535, before losing his head over what he held as truth and faith, Thomas More had said:

I am, said I, the King’s true faithful subject and daily beadsman and pray for his Highness and all his and all the realm.

Citizenship had to be invented, even before the Citizenship Act of 1948 that became effective on 1 January 1949.
Likewise in the French Revolution people were losing their heads, 254 years later, and speaking of each other as “citizens”. Don’t mention, “The Declaration of Rights and the Citizen” because that has not relevance to history in the South Pacific, rather as by good fortune and alacrity on the part of English mariners. William Brubaker concludes his essay, “The French Revolution and the Invention of Citizenship”:

The development of the national institutions of national citizenship… is intimately bound up with the development of the nation-state. The French Revolution marked a crucial moment in both developments. There are several respects in which the Revolution shaped the modern institution of citizenship. As a bourgeois revolution it created a general membership status of equality before the law. As a democratic revolution, it revived the classical conception of active political membership, but transformed it from a special to what was, in principle if not in practice, a general status. As a national revolution it sharpened boundaries – and boundaries – between the members of the different nation-states. And as a state strengthening revolution, it “immediatized” and codified state membership. National citizenship bears the stamp of all these developments.

That may be true in creating model of a nation state, and the same might be said for the American Revolution occurring a few years earlier in 1776, with assistance and moral support from the then French Government. Like the democratic revolution in England, and the Republican Referendum failed, although I suppose that history is about “don’t talk about the Commonwealth”, although it was a precursor for the American Republic and the name conferred on the Australian Federation of colonies.

That is a little too glib. The point to be made is that national cultures differ because of different experiences. The point of corporate culture is to create a shared, often illusory view of others to the point where it becomes useful to deny their common humanity. Sometimes there are objective reasons. We can see this played out in the History of France and England, and it might be thought that the stamp of feudalism would impress a common familiarity. They both emerged as highly centralized states. Distance from Rome might have been a factor in protestantism for the English, but not the Irish.

Who knows what difference the Common Law made, and with it the jury system. The workability of the jury is a test of collective citizenship and the standard. Robert Menzies could not see reason for a Bill of Rights.

Countries hewn from the same cloth with the same blueprint, as Australia and New Zealand with some shared history can produce different approaches to citizenship. There was no large scale post-war migration to New Zealand. The Australian approach to formal citizenship is very different to that of the United Kingdom. There is no reciprocity. Sue v Hill will not occur in the UK. If Scott Morrison, the supremo of matters threatens to take away the citizenship of aliens, now defined by the High Court to include dual British citizens and others, they might yet be able to claim British Nationality. I had not fully appreciated the significance of the notation on my Grandfather’s enlistment papers, nbb, who was born of English migrants in Adelaide in 1880. Who know, if this would allow his grandson to claim British nationality. One notices in passing the toll of the very young on the sailing vessels arriving in the distant colonies.

Tony Abbots appreciation for coal and the Suez Canal may have seemed from the improvement in mortality of the stream ships. Unlikely. The context for migration has changed. Now most migrants are refugees.They are treated with despicable cruelty. The gated community is a short term fix in the age of Climate Change, and nor will it prevent scapegoating.

Now might be the moment in human history to take up Global Citizenship. which could be envisaged as acknowledging the need to protect the environment and extending the fair go to all. What is the value of national citizenship if the political systems are broken democracies at the call of corporate oligarchs? Who nonetheless added by compliant “politicians” have designed “trade agreements” to allow the Oligopolies and their faithful servants to reign. It is interesting to note that the Australian banks find themselves powerless to continue with international private transfers of money. The nation states are losing sovereignty. As national sovereignty goes down the gurgler, with few regrets, without re-institutionalization and reimagining at a local and global level, democracy will follow.

Comments»

1. wmmbb - November 21, 2014

Did I mention this post was a draft? Apparently not and that was an oversight on my part. My sincerest apologies. It occurs to me what I could have done was summarize the draft version, then rewrite. I will try this approach next time.


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