ADELAIDE – Much of yesterday’s fine polemic by Bernard Corden and Keith Jackson, Our impure Ozocracy is beginning to buckle, rang all too true for me, as did Barry Jones’ Citizens must rescue Australia’s wobbly democracy.
Jones is right, only we as citizens can change anything.
I do not think that even the perpetrators of the various insidious developments Corden and Jackson mention actually understand what is going on.
Indeed, they may well interpret what is happening as evidence of progress towards some vague, utopian notion of what a purely capitalist world looks like.
There is no single mind or hand at work. Rather there are systemic changes driven by many hands and minds, few of which comprehend the implications of their collective efforts.
Not everything that is happening is inherently bad. Some otherwise useful developments can be applied to bad or perverse purposes.
Nor is the situation irretrievable: we can still choose to draw back from the abyss.
But to do this requires a level of insight and understanding about the basically unsustainable, inequitable and inhumane nature of neo-liberal capitalism.
Alas, I see not much evidence that such insight and understanding is prevalent amongst the Great Australian Public.
To the extent that it exists at all, it seems to be restricted to those whom the conservatives would characterise as 'the chattering classes'.
Even the Australian Labor Party, once the party of working people and those who lose out under capitalism, seems incapable of articulating an alternative vision in which neo-liberalism's many excesses and flaws are at least contained if not eradicated.
In short, it seems that our democratic institutions are not currently fit for purpose.
They are not proving up to the task of introducing the structural reforms necessary to produce a fairer, much less wasteful, environmentally sustainable and humane socio-economic system.
It seems to me that only utter disaster will finally awaken 'the masses' to the true nature of the system they have thus far willingly embraced.
Most people seem willing to ignore its evils, seduced by the erroneous notion that it is the only viable path to a good life.
I do not count myself amongst the so-called 'woke' culture. I am too old, too cynical and too suspicious of virtue signalling to join such a movement.
The 'woke' represent a political dead end anyway. They are just another bunch of authoritarians masquerading as apostles of democracy and freedom.
So, like Corden and Jackson, I struggle to see how we can collectively emerge from what is a growing crisis of neoliberal capitalism without enduring a great deal more pain.
Yet, as Barry Jones writes, it may be left up to us citizens to render change.
My personal contribution to change includes a decision to never again vote for a major political party.
They are now corrupted beyond redemption and full of people for whom politics is a career choice, not a vocation.
I am hopeful that the appearance of more and more independents in our parliament will undermine the existing duopoly to the point where meaningful change can be forced past the various interest groups that now dominate the political process.
If we are really lucky, we will introduce electoral reforms to create multi-member electorates where representatives are elected through proportional representation.
In 1996 New Zealand Aotearoa ditched its ‘first past the post’ system in favour of an MMP (mixed member proportional) system which responded to voters wanting more choice to elect smaller, niche parties.
Analysts say the change has resulted in a more diverse New Zealand parliament, including more female, Māori, Pasifika and Asian MPs.
Something similar in Australia would seem more likely to produce a parliament whose membership is broadly reflective of an increasingly diverse electorate than the existing system which favours the status quo.
But, taking Barry Jones as a guide, the electorate may have to take the first steps by ensuring that more independents are elected to our Australian parliaments, forcing the major parties into coalitions and thus making parliaments more responsive.