What Can Australians Do About the Current Political Situation?

by Jo_Murphy

"What can I do about treatment of refugees," "I am appalled at what mining is doing to our country, but I don't know what to do about it!" These cries are now heard on many forums.

It would seem clear that in the 2013 Australian elections the Green Party of Australia lost many, many votes because they linked issues surrounding mining with claims that they would fund better treatment of refugees by taxing mining companies. Are these two issues linked? Should a political campaign be fought by linking them? How can Australians think their way through the complexity of this unfortunate coupling? Are we as Australians bereft of any voice or power in the situation? Is there still hope for justice in a country that was once thought of as "Lucky".

What This Article Is About

Time For Action

The other night, I was talking to Fargy over a cuppa. (I like my tea Spring Green / Fair Trade)  

I asked him,  "What should people do if they wanted to campaign/ take action / lobby against this Liberal government?"  

At first I really liked his answer.  

"You don't need to do anything - he (Abbot) will shoot himself in the foot.  He is already running himself out of the game".  I liked this answer.  I immediately felt relieved.  There will be a lot of damage done to human rights and the environment, but if we don't stir the pot and hold our breath -  ??  -

All will be well and life will eventually return to normal.   Perhaps he will in the end be more famous than Whitlam.  There has aways been contention about Whitlam's dumping, but with human rights violations of the magnitude Abbot is chalking up - there will be no contention this time and - then it will all be over.

                                                                             !  ???????

The Door to Australia's Future

 

It is fortunate that the night before on Holocaust Memorial Day, Jo Harrington had released an interview with Eva Mozes Kor.

In this fairly lengthy interview Eva Mozes Kor talks about what happened when Hitler came into power.  Nothing!  Germans who would have otherwise been extremely concerned said. 

 

You don't need to do anything - he will shoot himself in the foot.  He is already running himself out of the game.  (He just a nobody - it will be alright)  

And then it was too late.  Eva Mozes Kor survived the concentration camp ordeal because she was a twin upon whom Dr Mengele experimented, and because she was extremely resourceful.  

In Australia, we are now in the precondition phase of a similar tragedy.  (I would love to be wrong - but go watch the movie through and decide whether we can take such a gigantic risk).

There are many things we can do to counteract this situation. I will outline the ones I can think of in this article. I will then ask you to contribute your ideas. But first, I will briefly describe a little pre-history of the situation so that people from other countries can understand how we Australians got ourselves into this ghastly predicament. Notice the word WE.  I take full responsibility for my own (p)art in it.

Australian Political History

How did we get here?
Untamed and Unashamed: The Autobiography

In 2003, Pauline Hanson was sentenced to three years jail on convictions of fraud. She spent three months in prison before the verdict was overturned and she was released with a...

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Who Was Pauline Hanson?

The Beginning of the Predicament

Pauline Hanson is an Australian politician and former leader of One Nation.  This was a right-wing populist, conservative and anti-multiculturalism platform. In 2006, she was named by The Bulletin as one of the 100 most influential Australians of all time.  

The Pauilne Hanson LegacyHanson started her career in the city near where I grew up called Ipswich.  She was elected councillor in the mid-1990s. Fame came for her when she gave her maiden parliamentary speech in which she criticised immigration and multiculturalism.  She wanted to stop government assistance to Aboriginals and political correctness.  Her approach to solving economic woes was a return to high-tariff protectionism.  She lost her seat at the 1998 election. (Wikipedia 2014)

Pauline Hanson became incredibly popular in Australia because she was able to tap the fear that Australians have "That "THEY" will take our jobs."

'They' are anyone who is perceived to either get an 'unfair advantage' such as immigrants, refugees or other groups that have government protection or financially backed programs to help them 'step up into Australian society' and level the playing field.  

 

In her day, Ms Hanson wasn't as big a threat to Australia as Tony Abbot, because she didn't have the smarts to pull off the heist and because she was a woman.  Any woman daring to do politics in Australia falls fowl of misogyny.  Her biggest most unforgettable crime within the Australian political arena was to ask an interviewer to explain something to her.  She was then ridiculed and mimicked and demeaned right out the door.

Pauline Hanson was just a catalyst.  She brought to the surface everything that is ugly about Australian society.  It would have been nice if this experience had been like lancing a psychological boil.   Instead it showed just how frightened the Australian population is of competition and 'otherness'.  Once unscrupulous politicians picked up on this psychological vulnerability, Australia as a nation had no hope.  (That's why we are called "No Hopers").

 

Prisoner from Amnesty International, 1977 (#56)
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What Was the Tampa Affair?

Hasonite Attitudes Didn't Come Out of Nowhere?

In August 2001, the Howard Government of Australia refused permission for the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa, carrying 438 rescued refugees to enter Australian waters.  Watch this movie created by Margo O'Neil of the ABC.

 

In response to the feelings that Pauline Hanson showed were fueling passion in Australia, the government of the day created refugee detention centres.  Anyone Australian who still knew how to think was embarrassed by the Tampa Affair

Peace Wall
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Tourists and Vagabonds: Bauman Contributes a Framework for Thinking

The lasting effects of the Holocaust, Postmodern Consumerism, "Refugeeism" and Liquid Modernity

Zygmunt Bauman was an extremely innovative sociologist, who resided in England once he had been driven out of Poland by an anti-Semitic campaign in 1971. Bauman tackles the issues that led to anti-semitism and the floundering, floating problem of "refugeeism".   He grappled with such issues as the lasting effects of the Holocaust, postmodern consumerism, and liquid modernity.  His ideas about Tourists and Vagabonds are intertwined with a well articulated exposition on the fragmented nature of commoditized time.  His capacity for creating frameworks for illuminated thinking ensures that he is one of the world's most eminent social theorists of the Post Modern world.

By the mid-to-late 1990s, Bauman was able to conceptualize the shift that had taken place in modern society in the latter half of the 20th century.  We (in the modern world) had transformed modern economies so that societies of producers had morphed into societies of consumers.

 In the 1990s, Bauman was able to recognise the confusion associated with the terms "modernity" and "post-modernity".  He fashioned tangible metaphors describing "liquid" and "solid" modernity instead.   As this shift in consciousness materialised, he provided us with tools - 'metaphors' - so that we would be able to 'see' intangible aspects of modern angst.

Angst is another name for those troublesome panic attacks so prevalent throughout society today. Anxiety is an illusive malady becoming more and more diffuse and harder to pin down. Often quietened with antidepressants; what we are really experiencing can be thought of as "liquid fears.”  They are amorphous anxieties that have no easily identifiable referent. These are what I would call slippery fears and they are often linked to an elusive enemy. The  '"they" who will come here and take our jobs.

When the University of Wroclaw wanted to award Bauman an honorary doctorate in October 2013, there was a major anti-Semitic and anti-communist uproar against him. He rejected the award.

Bauman has crafted a framework for thinking that helps us get a handle of how prejudice is galvanizing in our modern liquid world.  He has been able to capture metaphorical images of our nebulous and illusory fears so that we can see them.  Once these fears are seen, we can acknowledge and work with them in a more honest and reconciliatory way.  This article called Seek First to Respect Then to Understand is one of my efforts to place values ahead of knee jerk reaction.

Liquid Modernity

A Framework for Thinking about Thinking
Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty

The passage from 'solid' to 'liquid' modernity has created a new and unprecedented setting for individual life pursuits, confronting individuals with a series of challenges neve...

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Moral Blindness: The Loss of Sensitivity in Liquid Modernity

Evil is not confined to war or to circumstances in which people are acting under extreme duress. Today it more frequently reveals itself in the everyday insensitivity to the suf...

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Persistence Of Memory
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Flee the country where a lone man holds all power:

It will be a nation of slaves

Does Australia Have a Problem?

Everyday it feels worse!

Damien Smith has shown why we should be concerned in article called Give Me Liberty.  

Simon Bolivar once said

Flee the country where a lone man holds all power: It is a nation of slaves.

Simon Bolivar - Liberator of the Americas

I will leave it up to you to read Smith's 2014 article and only dot point the attributes identified by Dr Lawrence Britt in 2003 that indicate a Fascist Dictatorship.

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
  4. Supremacy of the Military
  5. Rampant Sexism
  6. Controlled Mass Media
  7. Obsession with National Security
  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
  9. Corporate Power is Protected
  10. Labor Power is Suppressed 
  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts 
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment 
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
  14. Fraudulent Elections

For those who would like to do something, the rest of this essay is about strategies we can all embrace in our own way and within our own budgets and timeframes.

Who Really Has the Unfair Advantage?

Australians Need to Actively Seek Out Financial Education (Strategy 1)

Getting back to Fargy and his idea that this might all just "Blow Over" if we wait for the next 'Ill Wind That Blows No Good'.   

Kneeling to God?

In an article called An American owns Australia Fargey talks about how the media and big business pull strings in elections. 

"Just a friendly chat at a fund-raising dinner held by Gina Reinhardt, a mining heiress in Australia.  But the picture tells a real story.  The man kneeling is Tony Abbot, just before his election to Prime Minister of Australia".

Notice that this all happened at a fund-raising dinner held by Gina Reinhardt, a mining heiress.  Can you guess who the other chappy is?  (Better read the article)

Whether you agree with Fargy or not, my first suggestion is that you become financially educated.

 

Suggestion Number 1

I suggest you read The Unfair Advantage.  (Especially Unfair Advantage Chapter 4/ Risk.) You may or may not agree with the messages in its pages, but at least by understanding how the mining companies and the Government work in tandem, you will be able to see why I call for the Australian Green party to unhook refugee issues and mining.  They are separate issues.  Mining is about money and power but the situation with refugees - that is about human rights and civil liberty. Refugee resettlement should be funded by projects, which help the refugees earn money from outside the country so that they are bringing their own funding into the country along with their gifts, talents, insights and integrity.  What the Greens need to show us the voters of Australia is that they can run the country without any need to rely on mining at all. The more they rely on mining for funding, the less likely they are to be able to stop mining. Think of gambling as an analogy, the government so depends on gambling for revenue that they are prepared to allow it to continue no matter what the harm, no matter what the damage to people who suffer from addicition.   It does not help matters to bring these issues of financial co-dependency into arguments about human rights.   The two separate issues need 'unhooking'.

The Unfair Advantage

and what you can do about it

What is WE FIRST Mentality?

Read the Book and Think About The Strategy. (Strategy 2)
Strategy + Business best marketing book of 2011 (Publishers Weekly).
Mainwaring claims social media has now become potentially viral and borderless.  As such, it can be a lightening quick vehicle with which to promote "contributory consumerism."  He  puts forward a unique suggestion for technological innovation and systemic change harnessing big business's capacity to create major changes in the way consumers buy goods.  This could if we want it, bring about a tidal wave of change leading to equity.  When John Lennon wrote the words "War is Over. If You Want It", he would have had an inkling that somewhere, somehow, someone would work out how to harness the power of mass marketing to create a better world. This book could be that strategy - if we want it.  The book has been released on CD, or can be downloaded for those who prefer to listen to ideas this way. 
We First is about the power of brands and the power consumers have via their choice of purchase to the benefit society and do what I would call "cleanse"  capitalism.
There are some things we can all do besides take our own environmentally friendly bags shopping. What is needed is personal strategies based on research.  Just 'not using bottled water' can and would have a dramatic effect on the wellbeing of the poorer populations of the world, as would always choosing Fair Trade goods.  But more than this, Mainwaring has designed a very simple solution that would help 'direction' the 'flow' of money so that the lower 50% percent of the world's population could be cared for. I will not spoil this book by preempting its power.  Have a read and see what you think. 
 

Simon Mainwaring has a brand consulting firm that helps companies use social media to build communities, profits and positive impact. Connect: simonmainwaring.com and Twitter at @simonmainwaring

 

We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World

Combining social media tools with socially conscious brands, the two major trends shaping tomorrow's consumer climate, Simon Mainwaring presents a visionary new model for compan...

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Guernica, 1937
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Art That Makes a Difference!

Be The Change We Want To See In The World (Strategy 3)

Relational Aesthetics is a much criticised art movement that creates its own platform from relationships forged through participation in the act of artistic creation. Within the context of the relational artistic acts, writers who talk about the art movement 'wrap themselves up' in what can be called 'linkages'.  (Let's just called them connections and presume for argument sake that social media is good for making the kinds of connections needed to be useful in any fight for justice).

Truthfully, these artistic ideas began back when John Lennon and Yoko Ono (and others) started appealing to our sense of 'global' self preservation.  From the very first instance Performance Art was about consciousness and consciousness raising. Yoko Ono's Communication Art and Performing the Other were a little more honestly named and a lot less pretentious than modern versions of Relational Art as described by Nicolas Bourriaud.  Modern Relational Art cracks at the seams for the reasons described by Zygmunt Bauman.  The artists are more concerned with establishing themselves as artists than they are about doing art or about relating.  This accounts for the hollow feeling people describe when they talk about this kind of art. (It is hollow and shallow.)

If you listen to John Lennon singing Give Peace a Chance, what he is really saying is that we could have peace tomorrow if we really wanted it - but - each and everyone of us has too much invested in the system to "REALLY WANT IT!"

At it's very deepest level, Art exists in society to show us those aspects of society that have been glossed over or suppressed to maintain the status quo. This is why the suggestions I am making in this article are very small and simple acts.  They are designed to help us keep the 'end goal' in view as we work together to clear our minds in an attempt to come to terms with the problem of growing Fascist ideology in Australia.

Here is my third concrete and tangible suggestion. 

Suggestion Number 3

What if each and everyone of us find just one image of a refugee who we believe has contributed to Australia by making the country a better place to live. 

It might be a person in your street who has settled well and is now contributing to society, or it could be someone as famous as Mao's Last Dancer. What if each and everyone of us created a portrait of that person 60cms by 60cms, and on one chosen day the entire country carried that portrait held high through the streets of their own home town. (Don't forget to get footage).  Schools could do this.  Community Centres could do this.  Political parties such as the Greens would surely support this.  The list goes on. Once the peaceful march was finished, the portrait be it painting, photo or sculpture could be hung outside buildings to act as a permanent reminder that this is one big global nation and everyone is welcome.  

 

Relational Aesthetics

Is this art movement a kind of rebellion?
Relational Aesthetics

Where does our current obsession for interactivity stem from? After the consumer society and the communication era, does art still contribute to the emergence of a rational soci...

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Encounters Beyond the Gallery: Relational Aesthetics and Cultural Difference (International Libra...

Encounters Beyond the Gallery challenges the hegemony of Western aesthetics in the global arena of contemporary art and argues for a pluralization of art languages. It draws att...

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Consumerism

good or evil

The Power of Youth - KryptamystiK

Listen To What The Younger Generation Are Saying (Strategy 4)

If you heart isn't filled with love you can't flourish!

Sounds right doesn't it?  These are the words of Markus from KryptamystiK.  

Markus from Kryptamisitik

Markus lives and works around the Ipswich district and he has a powerful impact and influence on young kids and youth in their formative years.

 

Listen to this Audio called

No Victims Here - The Difference Between Talking about a Problem and Changing It

You will need to listen to the audio all the way through to hear the song Emergency.   

 

Suggestion Number 4

I have started writing a work book of lesson plans around the messages that KryptamistiK sends to kids. Rap can be a powerful, medium.  Once they are released - use them!  Talk to kids and help them understand what is happening around them.  (More about this anon)

Gamification - Make Learning English Easier

This is my suggestion - do you have some too? Strategy 5 - Over to you - do you have a suggestion?

I am working with a team to create products around an idea to integrate phonetics with a professional understanding of Gamification. I will write much more about this later, but for now it is a transmedia project that will render phonetics fun and attractive through gamification designed to draw the children and other learners into the system.  

Below you can see the initial paintings from which the system will be crafted.

PHope  These paintings will be digitized and then transformed into various games, posters and charts. (The letters will be sized and adjusted) 

There is a whole strategy evolving and this is only one small visual part. 

Do you have suggestions about how we can combat Fascism in Australia?  Soon I will write many articles about what the idea of a universal language could do for world peace.  But in the meantime, I would like to invite you to explore your ideas.  All ideas are welcome and no strategy is too silly to be considered worthy of a write up.

You could start an account here at Wizzley, or tell me your idea and I could interview you.  Just make a comment on the discussion boards below to start the conversation.

Metagogy - a Developed Style of Thinking

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How Did We Let Protest Go?

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Updated: 02/03/2014, Jo_Murphy
 
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Jo_Murphy on 07/10/2015

Hi Henry, Thanks for reading. Indigenous people in Australia still fight for their rights. But now we also fight for the rights of refugees. Basically, Australia is motivated by economic concerns and overlooks human rights concerns as well as care of the environment. I think people all over the world will always fght about these things. Jo

blackspanielgallery on 07/10/2015

I had no idea there was conflict in Australia, I thought it to be a placid place. I did read somewhere regarding the indigenous people having opposition to Australia Day. I suppose it is similar to the situation here where the Native Americans were not treated well in the past.

Jo_Murphy on 02/06/2014

Yes I'll go look for links too, Thanks Fargy, Jo

Fargy on 02/06/2014

If memory serves I heard a report on the radio about Doug Cameron wanting unions and other groups to form together to form something he called a Concord. Similar to the old Accords. It's purpose would be to more strongly represent combined interests to Govt.

I cannot find a link just yet. rushing to work. Mayhap you will have more luck.

Jo_Murphy on 02/06/2014

Yes. How we can get past that. We have marches coming up, people are turing up in force to help out the asylum seekers centre (etc) We need open honest debate - and then action.
One of the ideas that is floating around has been inspired by the Eve Mozes Kor article and interview. Perhaps we need an Australian Day of Forgiveness for Tony Abbott and both the Liberals and Labour. At the moment he is 'lampooned' and all this is doing is making him a hero on one side of the polarized debate and a demonised villain on the other. A march of forgiveness would show that love will always triumph over evil. If you get time to read http://wizzley.com/railway-man-a-movi...
Railway Man or see the movie this true story is about forgiveness for the sake of itself. Both men realised that they simply couldn't live unless they forgave. So let's do it now - before the holocaust. And then start again, Jo

JoHarrington on 02/06/2014

Well, that was all very eye-opening. I'd heard bits and pieces of it all, but not as one cohesive whole.

The last couple of decades has seen such an almighty push towards fear politics. I'd like to see how we can get past that.

Jo_Murphy on 02/02/2014

Yes!!! I was thinking about that today. I was listening to The Unfair Advantage - Pay for Performance Politicians.
That makes sense. Why should someone who wrecks the country end up with a wage for life?
http://www.australiandemocrats.org.au/
I thought the Democrats were dead in the water. You don't hear much anymore? Jo

Jo_Murphy on 02/02/2014

And thanks for your help and encouragement Mira - I will go and fix the word Hope.
Cheers, Jo

Fargy on 02/02/2014

We have plenty of political parties. Especially with the influence tiny fringe parties can obtain.

Having the Democrats or Greens revitalized would probably be the best thing to happen.

Or the National Party, that's pretty dead. Or all three.

There are good people in Australian politics, it's the nature of the game that interferes, the length of time things take, the lack of measuring how well politicians perform, the wealth to be made from being in politics and business.

So there's something we could do.

Measure politicians output. Then rank them on a ladder.

Legislation proposed and whatever other quantifiers we could find.

Media releases and so on.

Mira on 02/02/2014

This was a very interesting and informative discussion for me, not only because I got to learn a few more things about Australia but also because you pointed to some important books. I will go back to read Bauman -- what a great suggestion! Will also read We First. Thanks for the article, and good luck with your wonderful painting project!


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