Friday, November 30, 2007

on the occasion of the reported death of the liberal party..

i was amazed to hear that a party with a 2pp of 47% was at death's door. if 3 people in 100 had gone from 'green' to 'lib' instead of 'lab', we'd be marveling at howard's latest triumph.

still, margins are less important than directions. if libs don't find some way to get 1/2 or more of the green vote, they will drift out of contention. i presume malcolm turnbull knows this, but the people he has to work with do not.

so one can imagine the labor party becoming the agent of commerce and industry and slowly starving the libs of their financial support. this is when the greens may become significant. they will grow simply because they have no debts to pay, and can put the case for saving the planet when it is becoming ever more evident the planet needs saving. they will also peel off labor supporters who are uncomfortable with the compromises required to be the 'natural' party of government.

under these conditions, labor will indeed prosper. this might be a bad thing for oz though, a comfortable ruling party needn't do much.

the glories of war

this is link to a post at salon:

on the nature of war, government spin, and national blindness. i particularly liked it because the writer remembered that orwell was well aware that western societies were susceptible to thought control, without the need for a ministry of truth.

oz pm's dispatch troops to foreign lands to kill people there, as a matter of electoral convenience. there is no element of national defense. howard and now rudd seem to think war is rugby, to be played 'away' always. sooner or later there will be a 'home' game. fools will be outraged at unprovoked attacks, and government will talk about protecting us with anti-terror laws.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

american democracy

what democracy would that be?

perhaps, mr shapiro, you will allow me to classify the usa as an elective monarchy?

whether or no, the quality of the debate was at least as good as the quality of the american electorate. they have, after all, elected king george the w twice.

the republican candidates are notably less 'presidential', in their debates. they have to convince rednecks and bible bashers of their sympathy for 'american values'.

citizenship, and lesser classes

the unique feature of democracy is citizenship: the equality of all members of the electorate in setting state policy, either through direct election, or through citizen initiative.

other societies are characterized by a class system: a few members of society make all policy decisions, while the vast majority can only watch. indeed, very often they can not even watch, as the parliamentarians often rule in secret.

no one would choose to be a second class human, but if you are born into such a society and continually told this is as good as it gets, and if there is no possibility of change without radical action, the resulting national character of supine acceptance of subjection makes the 'politician' class very secure, even when visibly corrupt or incompetent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

what is 'democracy'?

democracy is a society ruled by it's members, who equally share in the power of decision, through balloting. abraham lincoln summarized this as

"government of the people, by the people, for the people."

there is very little democracy in the world today, although the word is in constant use. even north korea manages to work 'democratic' into it's title, while parliamentary republics and monarchies maintain the rule of the politician's guild by newspeak. they diseducate the electorate by continual references to 'our democracy' while assuring them that nation management is too hard to be accessible to anyone but politicians. well, they would say that, wouldn't they?

in fact, real democracy is not impossible. california, for example, comes very close to democracy. so do about half of the united states, and switzerland.

in a modern state, there are three features that make a democracy:

1/ direct election of officers of state

2/ public execution of state activity

3/ primacy of citizen initiative legislation

all are necessary, and in spite of the self-interested protestations of politicians, all are efficient and effective functions of state management.