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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Global democracy not so outlandish

Best practice says a global view benefits everyone.
I couldn't ignore this amount of negativity even though it came to my attention quite late in the day. Today in fact. Apparently Bob Brown gave an oration in Hobart on 23 March, the 3rd annual Green Oration. On 13 April Brown resigned as leader of the Australian Greens. There was some ascerbic coverage of Brown's oration in the media, mainly poking fun at his speculations. Politicians aren't allowed to speculate, perhaps. No blue-sky thinking from you, mate, stick to the brass tacks. Anyway, here's an example, from The Land:
Some analysts questioned if Senator Brown’s shock resignation was linked to a bizarre speech he delivered recently in Hobart - the third annual Green oration - which was ferociously attacked by [the National Party's] Senator Nash.
Senator Nash said if any more proof was needed that the Greens were the ”loopy” party, Senator Brown’s speech proved it, with his call to "earthlings" and musings on why intergalactic phones aren’t ringing.
Nash made sure the reporter got wind of the "more outlandish" of Brown's speculations. "Haw haw! Yeah right, mate." What a flake. Patrick Carlyon over at the Herald-Sun also savaged Brown for his speculations. Carlyon is the author of a book on Gallipoli, which makes sense, because wars usually occur between nations, and Brown had suggested establishing a global democracy. Patrick's father, Les, also wrote a big book about war.

War is one thing that comes to mind when contemplating a global federation. But there are other things that suggest such a move, apart from the need to combat climate change, which was where Brown took his cue from. There's the internet, for a start, which is operating to reduce the force of national boundaries. In terms of defamation law, copyright law, and criminal law the internet is adjusting the way we think about the idea of a legal jurisdiction. Publishing a story in the US, for example, does not protect you if you defame an Australian. The more recent push for stricter protection for copyright holders, including SOPA, suggests that only global solutions to malfeasance are valid. Protection of minors, too, requires police forces to operate across jurisdictions and where they cannot prosecute due to differing laws the vulnerable are disadvantaged. We've also seen parliaments, including Australia's, loosening the regulations covering extradition so that it is easier for foreign states to extradite people from here. There has been a similar loosening in terms of access to private data, to the consternation of some.

What else is global in nature? The marine environment is. Fishing on the high seas is being done illegally by rogue operators, to the detriment of fish stocks. Pirate ships routinely catch fish they are not entitled to. But more importantly national boundaries make it difficult for transnational organisations to manage fish stocks because these organisations cannot mandate behaviour. If a country does not want to reduce its catch there's nothing anyone can do to make it stop.

But the world is becoming more interconnected anyway, apart from the exigencies of such things as the environment, the internet, law enforcement, and marine sustainability.

We saw this with the global financial crisis. We see it with European financial problems that still impact on countries everywhere, including Australia. Stock markets around the world are sensitive to street protests in Greece and Spanish attempts to fund sovereign debt. It's not just Germany that has to worry about insolvent southern European countries, it's all of us.

So it's not hard to come up with any number of areas of human activity that are global in nature. In fact it's laughably easy (if I can do it, so can Senator Nash). So instead of laughing at Bob Brown for saying things that most people never think about (but some other people do think about these things), maybe we should all just put aside our party-political prejudices and participate in a debate that can be useful. It's just not useful to lambast someone for being original. It's degrading to everyone concerned, including those who read these news stories. There has to be a better way.

Which is something that Bob Brown has been saying for decades.

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