“Imagine a twenty-first century piece of software trying to run on a twentieth-century computer, and you have a fair picture of the New Zealand democratic system”. Max Rashbrooke.
We are fast approaching a general election during a time of both national and international crisis. These multiple crises have been brought about by flawed political decision-making over many years and in many countries. In New Zealand, civil society organisations, such as Greenpeace, are proposing radical changes in NZ’s economic and foreign policies. All of the political parties represented in the NZ parliament and the minor parties outside, are likewise in the business of advocating policy changes. These range from conservative tweaking to radical reconstruction – of the policies; not of the machinery by which those faulty decisions are arrived at.
All the failures that have culminated in the present crises are the result of failures (be they of omission or commission) in decision-making. Despite this, there has been little serious attempt within the political machine to adjust the faulty mechanisms through which such flawed political decisions have been arrived at. At least, in this respect, NZ should try and put its own house in order. Success in this might help other governments and electorates, whose faulty-decision making has contributed so much to our problems, make improvements to their own decision-making.
As a foreign policy wonk, my personal ambition would be to see NZ exit the US alliance before it is dragged down in the impending sea-wreck. (I would love to see Australia also saved – but their ship’s officers seem determined to lash their country to the bridge.)
Given the unawareness and consequent unconcern into which the NZ electorate has been lulled, without a rules change, NZ politicians will not implement the difficult measures required. They will only be forced to do so once an informed and active public insists that they should. Such public awareness and arousal is unlikely without empowering and motivating constitutional reforms.
No matter what the population think is in their best interests, unless there is an effective way of reflecting those wishes in the political system, their wishes will be ignored or distorted. Even then, virtuous decisions will only emerge if all has been done to ensure that a nation’s media and education systems disseminate a well-informed, intelligent and unbiased version of the reality to be addressed.
In March 2018 I wrote a blog that addressed this problem. Constitutional Convention 10 minute read.
I quote from it: “Reybrouck, citing the large numbers, who fail to participate in elections and the fast declining membership of western political parties, starts his book with a 1762 quote from Jean-Jacques Rousseau “The people of England deceive themselves when they fancy they are free; they are so, only during the election of Members of Parliament: for, as soon as a new one is elected, they are again in chains and are nothing.” He argues that modern, electoral democracies breed mass indifference. While political interest is focused on a narrow window at the time of elections, the electorate, being powerless to exert any influence between elections, is demotivated, feels it has no responsibilities and simply pays no further attention.”
I realise that the above, though it is a matter that is everyone’s concern, doesn’t concern everyone. If you are concerned and wish to get involved there is nowhere in NZ more likely to achieve a favourable outcome than Scoop’s Transitional Democracy programme. (See global governance item below.)
Transitional democracy For those lucky ones who can find time to care. 15 minute read.
An Eurasian Future Australasia’s leaders might be struggling with their commitment to the US imperium. This article explains why an alternative should be sought. 5 minute read.
Environment and Climate Change
Air-ships Peak helium? An opportunity for countries with less crowded airways. 4 minute read.
Human Rights & Justice
Australian police racism Australia’s black lives. 4 minute read.
World Bank poverty eradication Global poverty eradication goal – progress. 3 minute read.
Peace & Conflict Resolution.
Defence Alternative An alternative way of looking at defence issues. 4 minute read.
Killer robots One has to hope that a hacker can persuade the robots to score an own goal! 3 minute read.
Don’t worry How to survive a nuclear attack – at least the first effects thereof! I cannot think what we were worrying about! 5 minute read.