Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

By Con George-Kotzabasis

Breathing democratic freedom is neither easy nor free; it entails both rights and obligations and most importantly knowledge of current fundamental issues. But in most democracies their constituents tend to uphold and demand more their rights than their obligations, and more deplorably, a sizable number of them exercise their rights in a state of ignorance. This imbalance, however, between rights and obligations, as well as lack of knowledge of the real issues, puts in jeopardy the functioning of a politically just and economically productive democracy, and indeed endangers its existence as a form of government.

Moreover, it makes its voters who are uninformed of the points at issue captive to populist slogans and to that everlasting traducer of democracy, identified by Aristotle, demagogy, that appeals to the hopes and fears of the electors and by propagandistic lies and false promises opens the doors of power to demagogues. This is exemplified by two recent political events in our times: Alexis Tsipras and his party of Syriza winning the elections in Greece on a wave of populism and unprecedented lies and false promises in the political history of the country, and of the plebiscite of the UK, whose two leaders of Brexit, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, with a farrago of lies and dire fictions were able to hoodwink a major part of the populace to vote for the exit of Britain from the European Union. On a smaller scale this also has happened in the Australian elections, when the Labor Party by its scare campaign that the Liberal Coalition would privatize Medicare, succeeded in convincing a large part of the electorate of this fictitious threat with the result of Liberals losing so many seats that brought the country on the edge of a hang parliament.

How can one remedy the weaknesses of democracy and protect its constituents from becoming victims to populism and to demagogy with catastrophic results to the well-being of society and to its continued economic prosperity? Some people believe that the answer lies in bringing cultural and ethical changes among the people that would make them immune to this toxic virus of populist-demagogy; and thus leading gradually to the cashiering and inexorable dismissal of all demagogic and populist leaders from the domain of politics. The difficulty and danger of such a solution however is that cultural change is a slow process and during its gestation and vicissitudes in a long run may in the meantime unhinge democracy from its door of freedom, by the actions of feckless, inept, and irresponsible politicians, and incarcerate it within the dungeon of dictatorship. A safer and faster solution would be to enact radical changes to the electoral voting system by suspending in certain circumstances temporarily parts of the electorate from voting.

On what principle could one suggest such an unequal voting system that would discriminate so deliberately between social groups in the ambience of democracy, and which group would be the unequal part in the democratic process? The guiding principle of the first part of the question must explicitly aim to the continued viability and stability of a democratic system, in the context of which, the economic well-being of society depends and guarantees the further expansion of wealth that renders to the people a wide choice where to employ their talents and skills that would push their living standard onto higher plateaus and make their lives congenial to their desires. The second part, i.e., the social group that would be unequally treated, would be identified as that part that depends on welfare for its living and as a ‘debtor’ client of the government easily succumbs to populist slogans and rabble rousing; also, due to its low educational level and lack of interest in important matters, it deprives it from having adequate knowledge of the issues involved and hence is completely unqualified to make a sober judgment on these issues. It is mainly this social group that brings to power demagogues and millenarian ideologues that imperil the stability of the polity and its economic system. And, indeed, ironically pits this same social group into absolute poverty, and in turn destabilizes democracy itself, as it has happened with the political rise of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela; where its people after a contrived false prosperity are presently hunting dogs and cats to feed themselves. The same has happened with the Marxist Alexis Tsipras in Greece, where the pauperization of many of its ordinary people is exacerbated every day and has reached unprecedented high levels under his totally inept, ideologically barren and irresponsible government.

The enactment of this radical legislation would specifically suspend from the right to vote any person who had been on social welfare or unemployed for more than a year, and only with his/her ceasing on being on welfare or unemployed his/her right to vote would be restored. Such legislation would not only strengthen and secure the viability of democracy and the prosperity of its economic system, but would also deprive populist demagogues and political parties of a constituency upon whose existence they depend. Moreover, it would substantially reduce the spending of the welfare state and make it less precarious to the fiscal policy of the state and hence to the well-being of the country. This radical enactment takes a leaf from the cradle of democracy in classical Greece, Athenian democracy. The latter disenfranchised and suspended from voting citizens who had failed to pay a debt to the polis. Likewise, in a modern democracy people who were in debt for their living to the government, that is on welfare, would be suspended from casting a vote.

Needless to say, such a radical proposal, to occur in the ambit of the ‘spoils’ of the welfare state that has spoiled at least two generations of people by our carefree and stand at ease democracy, will not be easy to implement as it will rouse all the wrath and opposition of the ‘progressive’ bien pensants and the ‘good fellows’ of the dole. It will require extraordinarily strong and sagacious political leadership that will unite parliamentary opposition parties into a gigantic wave that relentlessly will sweep away this ‘progressivist’ praetorian guard of the human rights, without responsibilities, of the dole takers, and throw this defiance of the sanctimonious goody-goodies into the dust bin of history.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

 

 

With the terrorist attack in Boston and the capture of one terrorist, human rights lawyers are readying themselves to render to the captured terrorist the Miranda enactment that gives him the right not to talk to the police. It is for this reason that I’m republishing this article written in 2009.

 By Con George-Kotzabasis

 Supreme Court judge Bernard Bongiorno, who is presiding over the biggest terror trial in Australia of the twelve radical Muslims (The “Dirty Dozen” bombers) who were allegedly preparing themselves to be holy martyrs in their jihad against Australia by killing innocent civilians, has been persuaded by SC (Senior Counsel) of the defendants, Jim Kennan and Mark Taft, that the alleged terrorists are being treated inhumanely by the authorities and are in a state of mental collapse.

 Before we go into the ruling of the judge I think it would be appropriate to know few things about the two SC of the accused,. Jim Kennan, and MarkTaft. The former was a minister in the Kane and Kirner Labor governments in Victoria who held the portfolios of Attorney General and Transport in the mid-eighties. Melbournians will remember the Tramways Union strike in 1989 when trams had blockaded the metropolitan streets of Melbourne for more than a month preventing commuters coming into the city and threatening many small shops with bankruptcy. The strike lasted that long only as a result of Kennan being a weak minister as well as of the incompetence and languid state of his advisors. One example which I remember vividly, was his press secretary watching the Commonwealth Games with his feet on his desk whilst John Halfpenny ( the then Secretary of The Trades Union Council), who was leading the strike, was besieging with his goons the minister and threatening the livelihood of many small shop keepers. At the end of the strike, Jim Kennan was removed from the Ministry of Transport and was placed back to his Attorney General’s position. And Bernard Bongiorno was appointed to the Bench of the Supreme Court by the Brack’s Labor government in 2000. ( Birds of a feather flock together.)

The other SC Mark Taft was a member of the Communist Party following the footsteps of his father Bernie Taft, who, as the Victorian Secretary of the Party dissolved it in 1991 in the wake of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. But he dissolved the Communist Party not for the purpose of expressing his political mea culpa for the millions of peoples who were slaughtered by the Leninists doctrinaires Stalin and Mao, but for the purpose of conceiving its bastard sibling the Socialist Forum hoping that its members would become an influential part of the left of The Labor Party. In the latter goal the older Taft succeeded completely, while the younger Taft as a member of the executive of the Socialist Forum and as one of its foremost ideologues, second only to his father, was ideologically grooming many members of the left of the Labor party, among whom were the present Minister of Finance, Lindsay Tanner, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, of the Rudd Labor Government. Now that both SC Jim Kennan and Mark Taft have abandoned the heavy burdens of the public sector, which for both of them were a total failure, and have chosen to be lured by the entrepreneurial temptations of the private sector and gratify themselves with its rich tastes, they decided to open their appetite for the latter with the “aperitif” of being the defenders of the “Dirty Dozen”, in Australia’s biggest terrorism trial. But enough of this minuscule biographical diversion of our two attorneys of defense, and let us now deal with the “unprecedented “ruling of the presiding judge of the trial.

 Justice Bongiorno being a practical judge and not an ivory tower one, was not satisfied of being convinced merely by the “theoretical” pleadings of the two SC that the defendants were treated inhumanely by the authorities, especially when they were shackled hand and foot while they were transported from prison to the Court locked in the steel compartments of the prison vans, and wanted to test this allegation in a practical way. So when he visited Barwon prison where the twelve were being held he had himself locked up in “the small steel compartment…in one of the prison vans… to get a better understanding of their treatment”. Convinced now “beyond a reasonable doubt” by his own “travailed” experience during his own “transportation” to Barwon prison that the alleged would-be terrorists were treated by the authorities brutally and inhumanely he issued his ukase to the latter that unless they stopped this “intolerable” treatment of the prisoners his honor would “suspend the hearing indefinitely and consider releasing the men on bail”.

 Victoria’s Department of Corrections under this hovering threat expeditiously responded positively to the Jupiterian ruling of Justice Bongiorno and implemented most of his directions. In doing so it negated the possibility that some of the twelve defendants would jump bail and break away from the “forceps” of Australian justice and disappearing in a Muslim country. But it did so paradoxically at the expense of the Judge. As it deprived his Honor of the honorific that Muslims, moderate and radical alike, at least in Australia, would have bestowed on the Justice as an indelible sign of their gratitude for this service, i.e., giving the opportunity to their co-believers to escape from the unjust Australian terrorist laws, by replacing their traditional greeting of Salam with Bongiorno, for ever after.

 What was most interesting and amusing moreover, was the forensic evidence of the psychiatrists whose painstaking analysis had found the defendants to be psychologically and mentally disturbed—as if people who were prepared to kill hundreds if not thousands of innocent people for their messianic goals and in chase of the seventy-two virgins were not already incurable cases of mental disturbance–and “believed that their condition would deteriorate as the trial progressed”. Needless to say Justice Bongiorno was deeply influenced by this forensic evidence extracted from the “psychiatrist’s couch” and was a decisive element in his “extraordinary”, to quote him, ruling.

 Thus we will be told as an entertaining and jovial story, that the twelve bearded fanatics who were “toying” with ideas how to blow up Australians, now that they are standing before the bar accused of planning this atrocity they have metastasized themselves into mere “naughty boys” playing among the skirts of the “libertine” legal profession and claiming from the loose garments of the latter their human rights.

 Bongiorno Australia:Have a nice day

 I rest on my oars: Your turn now.