Photo Credit: Phill Jenkins
If you were not to the Octagon Theatre on the 29th August 2013 at the University of Western Australia when Greens Senator Ludlam laid down plans to “reboot” Western Australia, you ought to hear about it. You wouldn’t hear about the plans to upgrade the largest and the fastest growing state (ABS 2013) in Australia on the news, or read in the newspapers, but instead you hear about recent announcement, that (1) the opposition party leader, Tony Abbott, will suspend all marine parks in Western Australia and (2) will not build any light rail (which have long now been proposed and planned by various institutions, including Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute). If that is not worrying, then at least it is very puzzling.
So, why nobody has heard of the Green revolution?
• Because it does not rely on fear
The green economy and the green revolution does not rely on fear. On the contrary, the most successful political tactics globally and in Australia have been the ones who rely on fear. The two main parties wouldn’t be able to appeal to people if they chose to be cruel to animals or to any other part of society, so why is it they are successful when they target the least advantage group of society? It is because it relies on fear – refugees are perceived not only as economic and national security threat, but also as a cultural and environmental threat. According to a world renowned human right lawyer Burnside (2013), the current shift of policies towards asylum seekers is not any different from bullying at its worst: punishing and treating inhumanly the most vulnerable part of society.
• Because of our collective tendency towards fatal destiny (which too often underpins the human psyche).
On the turn of the 19th century, Dostoevsky (1864) observed that there is nothing that makes people take rational choices, but rather independent choices, and that most of them rather oppose of reason.
“What has made men to conceive that man must want a rationally advantageous choice? What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independency may cost and wherever it may lead. And choice, of course, the devil only knows what choice.” (See for example Dostoevsky 2008, p.19)
For a long time, we, as humans built labour camps, made wars and killed thousands of innocent people; all because it is no reason that we have been following, but independent choice. Everything to this point in our collective history points out that we have been taken the same approach for real threats, such as climate change: it is not reason, that humans want to hear, but the right to an independent choice – that is anything that would prove that a human is not just another key in the keyboard.
“…man would purposefully go mad in order to be rid of reason and gain his point!” (Dostoevsky 1864 and 2008, p. 21)
“…but very often, and most often choice is utterly and stubbornly opposed to reason” (see for example Dostoevsky 2008, p.20)
On the contrary, reason underpins most, if not all of social movements, in which human rights are at the centre of their values; the same human rights, which are now on the line because of the two main political parties, which are “competing in their cruelty and nastiness to one selected group of people” (Burnside, 2013).
• Because it is genuine
Senator Ludlam’s recent political career is marked with spotless reputation, life-long dedication and has been consistently underlined by reason. What a couple of hundred people saw that night and stood up for long applauds was different from any other political talk you are likely to witness publically, especially before federal elections (in the midst of political heat, there is very little reason to own a TV). Being genuine is not a value, which is often rewarded in the political world.
• Because it is a real possibility
Real possibilities are often excluded, just because the political world too often denies logic and reason. However, it is a real possibility that we take for the first time a reasonable choice since the World Summit (UNCED 1992) when 172 nations (including Australia) participated and adopted the term “sustainable development” coined by female Norwegian Prime Minister Brundtland at the time and after the World Conference on Human Rights (UNHR 1993) in Vienna which further extended human rights to the right of people to a healthy environment.
Let’s just once look beyond the shorelines of Australia: and one cannot but support the idea of being connected globally to wide social and environmental consciousness, one that relies on reason. As globally connected citizens, most academics would see themselves as linked to wider social and environmental consciousness and not to a small corner of the world. This is why The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is supporting the Greens in these elections: because it is the only party with adequate higher education policy.
•From ethics of politics to ethics of responsibility
The main values in Curtin University, which is the largest university in WA (Curtin University 2013), are:
Integrity – being consistently honest and trustworthy in all activities
o Respect – having regard for self and others;
o Fairness – ensuring just decisions through open decision-making;
o Care – acting to ensure the welfare of others.
These are the same values that hundreds people gave long stand-up applauds to at the Octagon Theatre and the values for which I also stand, as an academic.
The problem of being political is when you have to choose between bad and worse, but when you are presented with a genuine alternative – then it becomes an obligation. It is our responsibility to act as “active citizens” – something that is stressed throughout governmental documents and is underlined in the school curriculum in the state (Government of WA 2013) and even in the “Australian Citizenship: our common bond” (DIAC 2013) on which we base the Australian citizenship test.
I am not saying that this talk is the next Al Gore’s movie but it is revolutionary. If you have not have not heard of the green revolution yet, you soon will.
Away from the violence of empty words.
p.s. If you have missed the talk, you can watch it recorded on http://greenswa.net.au/wa-rebooted01.html
ABS (2013) “Australian Demographic Statistics” Catalogue Number 3101, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Burnside, Julian (2013) ”Safe, Effective and Legal: there is another way for refugees”, a keynote speaker at WA Italian Club, 217-225 Fitzgerald Street, Perth delivered on Saturday 31st August 2013.
Chinton, Phil (2013) at “Safe, Effective and Legal: there is another way for refugees” at Western Australian Italian Club, 217-225 Fitzgerald Street, Perth on Saturday 31st August 2013
Curtin University (2013) “Vision, Mission and Values”, accessed on 1st September 2013 from http://about.curtin.edu.au/vision-mission-and-values.cfm
Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) (2013), “Australian Citizenship: our common bond”, Commonwealth of Australia, Belconnen, Australia.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor M. (1864) “Notes from the Underground”, St Petersburg, Russia, see for example also Dostoevsky, F. (2008) Dover Publication, US
Government of Western Australia, “School Curriculum and Standards Authority”, accessed on 1st September from http://www.scsa.wa.edu.au
Ludlam, Scott (2013) at Greens “WA 2.0” at University of Western Australia on 29th August 2013, also at greenswa.net.au
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) (1992), 3-14 June 1992 held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
United Nations Human Rights (UNHR) (1993), World Conference on Human Rights, 14-25 June 1993 held in Vienna, Austria.