Australia. Democratic Lessons For The Old Continent

2 01 2008

One of the features of Australian life is the continuous chorus of public intellectuals bemoaning the fact that their countrymen and women are just not sophisticated enough. The Aussies are decried as uncultured and backward, unlike the enlightened citizenry of Europe we should try hard to emulate. This helps to perpetuate a warped view of Australia as a second-rate country, a poor cousin to European cultural and political sophistication.

Having lived and travelled around EUrope ourselves, we have to agree it is very charming. The architecture, the arts and the endless culinary delights all rate a very high mention. Compared to a shopping mall in Melbourne, the old continent sure looks sophisticated. Obviously, a country that was founded only some 200 years ago cannot match the cultural legacy of Europe. On the culinary front things are a bit better with Australian cuisine enriched by immigrants from all corners of the globe.

Unfortunately for the pedantic folks of Lattenomics, democracy and freedom are much more important than baguettes, risottos and priceless works of art. While Europe claims to be the world leader when it comes to democracy and freedom, such claims are hollow, with little insignificant Australia having the upper hand in what really matters.

On the political front Australia has a lot to teach the Old Continent. Unlike many European countries Australia managed a very important feat to remain a stable, viable and vibrant democracy since the 1820’s avoiding major internal conflict and dictatorship. By comparison Spain was essentially a dictatorship until 1975, same as Portugal. In the “cradle of civilisation” Greece democratic constitution was only activated in 1975 while Italy become somewhat democratic in 1946, its history to this day marred with series of political scandals and endemic corruption. Even the pompous French who love to lecture the world, have a chequered relationship with democracy becoming a modern democratic state only in 1958.

The modern direction of European politics is worrying. European Union, having failed to have its constitution accepted in democratic referendums in France and Holland, has learnt just one thing – democracy is bad. It gives the “stupid” people a chance to reject the received wisdom of the elites. Having learnt this important lesson, the EU Mandarins have rebadged the old Constitution: it is now called the Lisbon Treaty. It has one important difference form the failed EU Constitution – nobody apart from Ireland gets to vote this time! This is the essence of European democracy in action: here is the treaty that will essentially turn sovereign European nation states into federal republics of the EU superstate and nobody gets to have a say whether they want this to happen or not. Such tactics are a long departure from democracy and remind us of the top-down bureaucracy of the Soviet Union and elitist politics of Pakistan.

Needless to say such blatant fraud and corruption of democracy by the elites would not fly in Australia. For all our faults we can still have a say about the future of our successful, prosperous and vibrant democratic nation. We have just voted out our Prime Minister of 11 years and we will have a chance to decide who will rule us again in three years. The poor folks in Europe may no longer be so lucky.

Aussies, be proud!

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