Tag Archives: Democracy

More loss of freedom planned for Australia.

The politicians are at it again

The state premiers and the federal prime minister struck whilst the Las Vegas iron is still hot, all agreeing the police and the secret squirrels (intelligence persons) should have access to driver license photos to enhance the effectiveness of facial recognition technologies. Fact not mentioned is that none of that would have prevented the Las Vegas massacre. One premier waffled on about how we should resource the heroes who ‘put their lives on the line’ to ensure our safety but again and whilst that may well be true – that they do take risks – he could have also mentioned the farmers, transport, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, mining and health care and social assistance workers all of whom and in that order are at greater risk of death and injury than police and intelligence persons. Priest is the safest profession in case you were wondering – except for the risk of arrest as a result of falling prey to the charms of Eros but let’s not go there now.

Another oft repeated point made by these politicians is that their first duty is to preserve the safety of citizens. That is untrue – their first duty is to preserve the democratic system of government which includes preserving the ability of citizens to remove those elected to govern should the need arise. In keeping with that same principal of all powers, legislative, judiciary, executive, remaining with the people it needs to be reminded that the authority and duty to enforce law remains (executive) at all times with the people and is not surrendered to the police. “The police are the public and the public are the police”, as said Sir Robert (Bob) Peel, creator in 1829 of the first modern police force. The reason British police are to this day still called ‘Bobbies’.

For the people to exercise their right and duty to be the sole government of a democratic nation they need the ability to meet, discuss and take action free from intervention by those who in power might not have or are not acting in the nation’s interest. This is why we have freedom of speech, of assembly and freedom to communicate.

Yes I understand the need to keep criminals and terrorists under surveillance if they present a danger to the public but measures that impede on the rights of all citizens should always be temporary. We never hear Australian politicians mention ‘sunset clause’ and that should be a concern to anyone who values democracy.

Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.


Democracy, T-shirts and why people don’t buy newspapers.

Working on getting work which increasingly is less about scanning the classifieds and other employment websites for a nine-to-five job but rather will have to involve creating the money machine myself. Business, books in progress and not forgetting the art and photography entirely – suddenly there are not enough hours in the day and often I’m still at it in the early hours of the morning.

Part of ‘the plan’ involves reviving my t-shirt business of years ago but this time rather than just airbrushed shirts, I’m also adding screen-printed into the mix. Sounded easy enough but a few hours research was enough to discover it’s actually quiet involved if you aim to make anything someone might actually want. The technicalities of getting a design onto cloth in such a way it is somewhat similar to what was intended is difficult enough but before that one needs to be a creative genius, especially in these days of gross oversupply, and come up with colors and shapes that displayed on the wearer’s chest will satisfy his or her need for peer approval.

So full of enthusiasm and putting leftist philosophies aside I decided to engage in some capitalism, ordered equipment I no longer had due to past bills and later garage sales and then and after setting up the accounting software – oh the horror – got stuck into doing some designing. Well, couldn’t help myself and after churning out a series of sentences, images and jotting down other ideas for shirts that would for sure rake in the orders, the question of what I was actually doing came to mind.

Designing shirt graphics of course but beyond that and seeking ideas it occurred to me that a ‘good idea’ is one that adds to a human debate that is ongoing and probably started as soon as humans realized there are aspects to their lives they knew to exist but could not grasp sufficiently to fully understand. How many texts are there about Love for example? Starting from the first recorded which could be ancient Greek such as the writings of Homer or Plato and up to “Pretty Woman” or present day debates about gay marriage? The important thing is not arriving at a final answer which is beyond our abilities anyway but rather is the perfection of the debate. It must include all voices and be unlimited in scope and working on a seventies style counter-culture design and realizing I was self-censoring and have less freedom than the artists of the mid-twentieth century, it occurred to me that just as climate change could already be a runaway process, if in the simple act of designing a T-shirt I feel a need to exercise caution then all those important social debates have been closed by ill-informed legislation and democracy is already in an advanced state of decay.

And in Paul’s “also” section – a thought on why people don’t buy newspapers anymore. I was going to make this the subject of a post but a few examples are sufficient to make the point that the Internet is not solely responsible for killing print news.

From the BBC style guide a few examples of what we get these days in broadcast and print,

Dying more than once…

For the second time in six months, a prisoner at Durham jail has died after hanging himself in his cell.

A suicide bomber has struck again in Jerusalem.

It’s a sad and tragic fact that if you are a farmer you are three times more likely to die than the average factory worker.

Running out of celebrity rapists? No problem for this writer, the dead can do it as well.

Sixty women have come forward to claim they have been assaulted by a dead gynecologist.

OK – now compare the above to the beautiful piece below,

The boy’s spindly body sank slowly to the dusty gravel road. He lowered his head to the pebbles, resting his sunken cheek on his hand. His dry cracked lips did not close. He tried to cover his bare feet, but the torn dirt encrusted rags he wore were not long enough. He placed an empty tin can, his only possession, near his stomach. And then he started to cry.

Afghan Children Die in Streets of Hunger. James Sterba. New York Times 1972

Notice the rhythm created in the repetitions,

He lowered his head – His sunken cheek – on his hand – His dry cracked lips – He tried to cover – he wore – He placed an empty tin can – his only possession – his stomach – he started to cry

Poetry in prose in which the repetition of “he” and “his” in this single paragraph achieves the writer’s goal of drawing readers into the tragedy of the 1972 Afghan famine and in a way that establishes a personal connection between the reader and this Afghan child whom we know, in the following moment, died of starvation. He forces the reader to make that conclusion his or herself and hopefully write a letter demanding humanitarian intervention. (Which by the way, had we done at the time we would not be fighting the Taliban today.)

I’d buy a newspaper everyday if writers such as James Sterba filled its pages.


True Art is Truth – an explanation and Go Japan!

I thought I should explain the byline ‘True Art is Truth’ which is a Spartan proverb and has nothing to do with realism in the visual arts as some assume but rather is about the need to speak truth to the extent that is possible in speech and writing. I found that Aristotle had covered the subject and much better than I possibly could and I also added part of an essay on writing by Robert Louis Stevenson in which he also speaks about the need for truth and honesty.


The first rule of good speaking is to know and speak the truth as a Spartan proverb says, ‘true art is truth’; whereas rhetoric is an art of enchantment, which makes things appear good and evil, like and unlike, as the speaker pleases. Its use is not confined, as people commonly suppose, to arguments in the law courts and speeches in the assembly; it is rather a part of the art of disputation, under which are included both the rules of Gorgias (Sophist) and the eristic (Eris – goddess of discord and conflict) of Zeno (philosopher best known for his ‘paradoxes’). But it is not wholly devoid of truth. Superior knowledge enables us to deceive another by the help of resemblances, and to escape from such a deception when employed against ourselves. We see therefore that even in rhetoric an element of truth is required. For if we do not know the truth, we can neither make the gradual departures from truth by which men are most easily deceived, nor guard ourselves against deception.

You probably have heard much mention of fake news and alternative facts recently or proposed laws presented as ‘protecting’ us from evil when in fact it is to protect established power from civil society.

Robert Louis Stevenson.

Man is imperfect; yet, in his literature, he must express himself and his own views and preferences; for to do anything else is to do a far more perilous thing than to risk being immoral: it is to be sure of being untrue. To ape a sentiment, even a good one, is to travesty a sentiment; that will not be helpful. To conceal a sentiment, if you are sure you hold it, is to take a liberty with truth. There is probably no point of view possible to a sane man but contains some truth and, in the true connection, might be profitable to the race. I am not afraid of the truth, if anyone could tell it me, but I am afraid of parts of it impertinently uttered. There is a time to dance and a time to mourn; to be harsh as well as to be sentimental; to be ascetic as well as to glorify the appetites; and if a man were to combine all these extremes into his work, each in its place and proportion, that work would be the world’s masterpiece of morality as well as of art. Partiality is immorality; for any book is wrong that gives a misleading picture of the world and life.

I like that last line in which he states that partiality is immorality. Ever try discussing religion with a fundamentalist or an atheist, politics with a member of the far right or left or gender relations with a militant feminist?

Also, you know I’m pretty militant when it comes to civil and political rights and so I was happy to see the reaction in Japan to the passing of new ‘anti-terrorism’ laws. Violent protests and funny that in a matter related to democracy we in the West can now start taking lessons from the East. Rather than go over the details myself, just click HERE to go to “The Guardian” article which covers it all pretty well.