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The Unreliable Guide To… Democracy

By Nat Shepherd on October 31, 2019 in Other

A match made in Heaven, by Volodymyr Zelensky.

Our Government’s recent attacks on the ABC and the protest group ‘Getup’ have got The Unreliable Guide wondering about political freedom. Australia is politically defined as a representative democracy, so when did political commentary stop being a right? Is our current, so-called democratic government actually sticking to the brief? Let’s see.

Is Australia democratic?
In the 2019 ‘Freedom in the World’ report, which calculates the degree of civil liberties and political rights within nations, Australia scored a respectable 98 per cent, compared to the US’s 86 per cent (howdy, Trump!). Can we relax? The Unreliable Guide suggests not. A major tenet of democracy is the freedom of the press and in June this year Australian Federal Police raided the ABC with a warrant that allowed them to “search, alter and delete” journalists’ emails, handwritten notes, files, etc. Did this remind anyone else of Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” in 1984? While ScoMo and co. long to privatise Aunty ABC and force them to propagate the Party line (Hello, Mr Murdoch) it’s worth remembering that it was a Liberal, Menzies, who encouraged the establishment of an independent broadcasting company back in 1932. Could it be that our Liberals aren’t as liberal as the ones of old?

Can we trust the USA to be ‘leader of the free world’?
It may interest you to know that Hitler was considered a silly little fool with a daft moustache until everyone realised quite how dangerous he was. Trump may seem like a joke with his tiny hands and mad hair, but in living memory no president has ever expressed less respect for America’s democratic principles. He’s attacked the press, the judiciary, the justice system and even the validity of elections. Seig Heil! Trouble is, America is important. They are one of the oldest modern democracies and if the US starts dismissing core political and civil rights it undermines the democratic cause all around the world. #TotalitarianDictator

But we’re still free online, right?
Well, no. The immense, anarchic freedom of the net frightens those in power and for the last few years there’s been a massive attempt to suppress that freedom. According to a report by ‘Freedom on the Net’, “Governments around the world are tightening control over citizens’ data and using claims of ‘fake news’ to suppress dissent.” And that’s not all. China, who score 11 per cent on the democracy scale, are exporting their agenda of surveillance and comprehensive internet censorship all over the world, “offering… advanced equipment that takes advantage of artificial intelligence and facial recognition technologies.” The Black Mirror TV series is no longer a dystopian fantasy – it’s a bona fide docudrama. As Orwell warned, technology has the ability to enable a totalitarian mode of social control. But don’t worry, The Block is on TV and we can’t wait to see what colour they paint that bedroom wall.

Finally, The Unreliable Guide suggests you don’t take your eye off this ball. Democracy is nothing less than the freedom to choose and live out our destiny. The Diggers know that, look at their motto: “The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance.” Freedom is a privilege, not a right, let’s look after it.

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