For decades there has been concern in social and political theory about ‘the decline of the public sphere’. According to many prominent writers on the issue, an effective role for the public sphere in the exercise of political power is something that we have lost. For Hannah Arendt in her work The human condition (1958), societies in the modern age have lost the experience of politics. Arendt describes this ‘politics’ as the founding and preserving of political bodies that constitute a realm, the public realm, where people can be ‘seen and heard’ trying to find the right words at the right moment, trying to persuade others to agree on a particular course of action, trying to engage in deeds worthy of remembrance. Continue reading →
In 2011 in a small court in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle, a judge ordered the American oil giant Chevron to pay US$9 billion dollars in damages for pollution in the region that was caused by drilling activities in the 1970s and 1980s. The company quickly denounced landmark ruling as illegitimate. More than a year before the final ruling had been issued, Chevron had already taken steps to initiate an investor-state dispute against the Government of Ecuador under the terms of a US-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty (BIT). The company seeks to avoid paying the US$9 billion by convincing an international tribunal that the courts of Ecuador are corrupt and that the government is ultimately responsible for any environmental damage and associated health issues experienced by local residents. Continue reading →
The story of the abolition of the Transatlantic slave trade reads like a modern NGO advocacy campaign. Most of us know of Wilberforce who was its parliamentary spokesperson, but the campaign was much more than Wilberforce. It was the birth of the modern community organising campaign. Continue reading →
For me the question is a “how”. How can we, the people, secure our economic rights? We must go beyond “asserting” our economic rights and instead take action to “secure” them. Much work has been done on what those new economic rights should be. Personally, I believe a universal basic income is necessarily one of the rights that we should secure. It is now time, however, to plan out our journey and work out how we can claim and enforce our economic rights.
Why the future depends on restoring democracy
Senator Milne’s essay was first published in Island magazine, Issue 139, November 2014
There is a crisis of confidence in democracy in Australia. It is a crisis for people and the environment. It is a situation I have been mulling over for quite some time, but has been front and centre since the Abbott government tore down a price on pollution and mounted its all-out assault on renewable energy, the environment and social justice.
It is now clear to me that we can’t prevail on the gravest issues of survival in this century, in an age of rapidly accelerating climate change and growing inequality of wealth and opportunity, until we restore democracy in Australia.
Welcome to Green Agenda, an online publishing project of the Green Institute, that aims to explore contemporary green politics and philosophy.
Green Agenda had its genesis in conversations about the broken state of political debate in this country. There is more, and must be more, to politics and public debate than repeating the ways in which any particular government is bad.
When as a society we are seeking to meet the challenges of our times, we need to do so by discussing and debating alternative ideas and thinking; weigh up different ways of seeing the world and different visions for what we want our community, nation, and planet to be.