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Entries in politics (21)

Wednesday
Dec282011

Article: The Recess of Electoral Education (Onya Magazine)

What are the most important subjects taught to our children in primary school? Mathematics. History. English. Foreign Languages. Politics. If you thought the last subject felt out of place, you aren’t alone. During my time at a state primary school in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, politics was a barely touched upon subject – I scarcely recalled learning about the separation of powers or the Australian Federation until at least the intermediate years of high school. Although it didn’t deter me from higher studies of politics at VCE and tertiary levels, it would seem an exception to the rule. In Australia it’s compulsory to vote in elections – another exception to worldwide democratic norms – but are we afforded a suitable introduction to our vital institutions, civil society and its processes to make an informed decision from a young age and into maturity? What is meant by “political literacy” in 2011?

Read more at Onya Magazine.

Tuesday
Jul122011

Opinion: Principled Stand, Plummeting Poll?

Winston Churchill remarked that, “Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.” This was especially true for William Morris “Billy” Hughes, our most principled – and arguably audacious – Prime Minister.

Originally a Labor man, he pushed for conscription and held two plebiscites on the issue which were defeated. His caucus was fed up with him and threw him out in 1916. He challenged those who, “thought like him to follow him.” And he did and clung on to the Prime Ministership until 1923.

In this day and age, it’s more likely that the politician in question will sanction their party to electoral oblivion.

Read more at Onya Magazine.

Sunday
Jul112010

A Silent Defeat

I have talked about Korzybski's Manhood of Humanity in great detail in a post here, contemplating if we have indeed entered such a phase. I refuted such an idea, instead postulating we are stuck in the adolescence - an unstable transition that sees us valuing erroneously, remaining fearful of the future and striving toward ideals that are equally transitory. Reading Life, Inc. by media theorist, documentarian and writer (in addition to practising general semantics) Douglas Rushkoff a rousing and chilling condemnation of the corporatism that pervades our entire waking life, I wondered if it would be more appropriately titled the Adolescence of Humanity instead. If we worshiped gods and insanity as children, we now supplicate to corporations, brands and unsanity as adolescents.

Corporate culture does not merely exploit that we as humans routinely mistake the map for the territory, it insists that the map is identical to the territory and manipulates us into believing no other possibility exists. Corporations and brands exist merely as higher-level abstractions and as such requires our blind faith, not reason, to validate their outlandish claims. The intentional confusion of logical levels (PC vs. Mac instead of classifying both as "computers") separates us into categories and demographics that equally require our belief and complete and total submission to that belief to keep us spending our money on their brand - the goods and services they produce are largely irrelevant. Only a cult-like devotion to a product would elicit emotionally charged responses towards any claims of inferiority - "Flash isn't necessary for the web experience" is like saying an index finger isn't necessary to make a hand functional, but iPhone and iPad zealots parrot the line nonetheless.

Corporations and special interests wish us to be blissfully aware of the dual-function of language as behavior and language forming behavior. Buying a coffee from an abstracted "coffee house" stand in a local shopping mall, there was an item that could be purchased called a "babycino" - a thimbleful of frothed milk given to children. It pacified the children into thinking they were adult and sophisticated using the sound "cino" in the name as well as giving the illusion of care and provision for the children as parents (it's for baby - why would one deny a baby the pleasure of a beverage?) making both parent and child feeling content and even attached to the product. The drink becomes irrelevant but the kinesthetic experience remains. I asked the barista why it had such a name. He said, quizzically, "because it's for babies." He missed the point. It's for the corporation that owns the coffee house and no-one else.

Sunday
Feb212010

A Static Flame

Looking around this society of ours, we have become so preoccupied with time and its forward motion we have become afraid of its very existence. In one respect, we in Western countries have strode headlong into a complete disavowal of change. We fear it, we reject it and we try to cover it up to the best of our ability.

As Marcus Aurelius said in his Meditations, "The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it." We sell bottles of anti-change, we charge money to keep change at bay and we legislate change away in parliament.

In my view, I feel that the fear of change is another source and cause of so much misery and discontentment for so many people. They fail to recognize the only constant is the thoughts of the self and his actions and those too are subject to change. People jump unabashedly into work, into relationships and into commitments that prevent or minimize the chances of change. People foolishly believe that some institutions are forever; that once one problem has been solved, it cannot resurface in another guise as it evidently does in many cases.

Politicians are even scrambling to cover up the fact that change is inevitable; they use scientists with dubious rationality to insist that climate change is a myth; there is no credible reason for things to constantly change, even at the submicroscopic level. Just like a belief in God, they believe that humanity has no agency for change; all is predetermined, all will reveal itself in God's own time. This divine control is filtered down into religion, into politics and even into households that follow the words of God, Allah and Yahweh.

So we attempt to control change and re-label it progress. Like unconscious Marxists, we believe that progress towards higher standards of living and technology will lead us into utopia. With all changes, there are winners and losers. We focus on minimizing harm rather than maximizing utility associated with change; we irrationally suppress all change just in case something bad happens.

And shit does happen; it happens to every one, some more frequently than others. Sometimes shit happening allows us to learn and lead us in a new direction. To embrace that rather than shy away from it is the challenge we must all face. To recognize a life in four dimensions can still lead to one of fulfillment and happiness is the one change I believe that everyone should make.

What was once a great love is now deadened; what was once a routine hobby lies in the corner of a room. There's change everywhere; its ultimately up to the individual whether he stands amongst it or walks along with it, tempering it to his own needs.

Saturday
Jan232010

Never Surrender

"An honest politician is a national calamity." - Robert Anton Wilson

Writing a piece on the Australian Government's proposed Internet Clean Feed for Onya Magazine, I quickly realized some things about governance in the 21st century. Governance is an annoyance at its best, a hindrance to personal and in some cases, small-collective satisfaction at its worst. There's a role for collective action in our civil society and in the cases where Governments overlegislate and create more problems for more people ala the Clean Feed, its time for many leaders both political, economic and civil to sit down and ponder the end of a "space-binding" method of governance replaced by "time-binding" governance, instituted and regulated by information technology mechanisms.

The mindset that space and the matter that resides in it should be the basis for its government has reached a halting limit. The Clean Feed is a blaring example. The old Magniot Line mentality has prevailed even now, in the 21st Century though one can still send a malicious payload wirelessly. Now we must explore other frontiers to govern ourselves both with a public service and without. Will we? Perhaps in a technologically backward-ass country such as my own, only time will tell, and for us time may come too late.