I would like to begin by thanking the Sustainable Prosperity Action Group for inviting Tim Whiffen and me to be the moderators of their Clean Recovery Forum. It means a lot to both of us that you trust us to be a part of such an important event. I would also like to thank the speakers at the event for providing very thoughtful and articulate answers to complex questions concerning climate change, systemic unemployment, and rising inequality: Susan Close, MP (Deputy Leader of the ALP in South Australia), Senator Rex Patrick (Independent Senator for South Australia), and Professor Barbara Pocock (Lead Senate Candidate for the Australian Greens in South Australia). And finally, I would like to say thank you to the knowledgeable and active audience who filled the largest lecture theatre on campus.
Clean Recovery Forum, University of Adelaide, January 28th, 2021 by Sustainable Prosperity:
Sustainable Prosperity Action Group:
The three speakers consistently demonstrated how much effort they have invested in becoming knowledgeable about the issues that impact on us and the environment, and how much time they have put into trying to protect the quality of our lives and the environment. I encourage everyone who reads this blog post to click on the above link to see what they had to say.
As a primary mission of my website and Blind Insights is to empower people, I don’t want to take a partisan political position and say who said what, or whether I agree with them. You are all capable of watching/listening to the forum and making up your own mind. Instead, what I want to do is reflect on what I learned from participating in the Clean Recovery Forum, and how it can be leveraged to achieve a Clean Recovery.
In my opinion, the three speakers represented a balanced example of where progressive and independent politics are at in Australia. Collectively, they had a very good understanding of climate change (8,5/10), a good understanding of systemic unemployment (7.5/10), a slightly less good understanding of rising inequality (7/10), and an average understanding of what can be done to address these issues (5.5/10).
I don’t know how controversial my assessment is, that political decision makers know more about the crises we are facing than they know about how to address them, but I take this to be an obvious problem and starting point for any solutions.
It would be very easy to blame political decision makers for not knowing enough about the crises we face, not knowing enough about what to do next, and not having the courage to act, but all of these criticisms have limited legitimacy. Political decision makers have no more time and energy than the rest of us, and are just as (if not more) likely to succumb to Conventional Wisdom, Political Orthodoxy, and Confirmation Bias. While Cognitive Dissonance can be uncomfortable for citizens, it can end a career for a political decision maker who is judged by the consistency of their pronouncements.
A successful democracy depends on its citizens being knowledgeable and active enough to make sure that their representatives are knowledgeable and courageous enough to take appropriate action to address crises. A democratic government does not necessarily know any more than its citizens and will not risk taking courageous, necessary action unless they have the support of a majority of the citizenry. A democratic government/democracy is only ever as good as the citizens who select and participate in it, and, as the old adage goes, democracies get the government they deserve.
If citizens are ignorant and lazy, and spend their time complaining about the politics and politicians they have, then the politics of the nation will directly reflect these behaviours.
The audience at the Clean Recovery Forum were both knowledgeable and active, and it was clear that they want to contribute to bringing about significant, courageous change, but without a majority of citizens being willing to participate and vote in a similar way, such crisis averting change is only possible rather than probable.
Consequently, political activism has to do two things simultaneously: increase the number of knowledgeable and active citizens as well as pushing for knowledgeable and courageous action. Without a majority of knowledgeable and active citizens, a democracy like Australia will never get a majority of knowledgeable and courageous politicians.
The Sustainable Prosperity Action Group is doing a very good job of providing citizens with information and opportunities, and it is up to all of us to decide how we can contribute to a successful democracy that can overcome enormous/ interconnected crises. No matter how good an activist group is, never forget that they can do more with your support than without it. Increasing the number of knowledgeable and active citizens is the first step toward meaningful change. All of us bear some responsibility for the mess our world is in, and we can’t expect anything to get better unless we take personal responsibility for playing our part.
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