Public debates on rights: necessary and positive

Green Agenda co-editor, Simon Copland, responds to Hayley Conway and Mary Tomsic 

In Voting on the Rights of Others Hayley Conway argued against public votes on the rights of others as “a vote affirming the rights of a minority doesn’t lead to systemic change.” She continued:

“Systemic change is needed to end discrimination. Winning the ‘yes’ vote in the postal survey will not end homophobia and the campaign itself has given great licence for public homophobia, abuse, and misinformation.”

I think Conway has created a straw man with this argument, refuting something that no one has ever claimed about the postal survey on marriage equality, or the use of the public votes on rights in general.

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The Trouble With Consensus Is … We Don’t Do It Enough

Co-founder of the Victorian Greens Facilitators Network, Jim Buckell, responds to Sarah Maddison

In her interview with Clare Ozich in Green Agenda, Sarah Maddison puts consensus decision making under the spotlight. In doing so, she perpetuates some common myths: it’s too slow; makes for bad decisions; marginalises dissent. Then she advances a new one (to me anyway): it can apparently be impossibly difficult to review or overturn an old consensus decision.

I’m certain these pitfalls are not systemic. They don’t arise because consensus is a flawed concept. These myths take hold because so few of us see consensus practised well, including Sarah Maddison I suspect. Groups take all manner of shortcuts or press to a vote because of time constraints. Continue reading →

Response by Ken Blackman to “No One is Illegal”

A Response: Stagnation and Closed Minds – Australian Refugee Activism Now                  

“No One is Illegal” is a very interesting attempt to move action in support of asylum-seeking forward in Australia. I especially agree with Brankovich’s conclusions about the impasse currently facing the ‘refugee movement’ here. However, her prescription for a divestment movement aimed at corporations benefitting from government refugee / asylum-seeker policy and practice faces real problems. Continue reading →

Response by Godfrey Moase to “Securing Economic Rights”

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.

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Response by Russell Edwards to “It’s the culture, stupid!”

Tim Hollo’s essay was a delight to find. What a relief to see such important truths voiced in a prominent arena. To point out that the cause of the ecological crisis is culture, not choices; that the crisis will only be averted by undermining and ultimately replacing the dominant culture; that making a tactical choice to endorse the existing culture, in any instance, harms the crucial long-term project of deep cultural change; that among the most damaging aspects of existing culture are its tendencies towards hyper-individualist self-maximising dominion; that this culture is actively created and maintained by those who benefit from it, by marketing and political messaging — these are insights that ecologically aware people commonly hold. But, especially in this era of so-called pragmatism, rarely are they set out explicitly and systematically, as Tim has done. Hopefully Tim’s essay can serve as a reminder for the green movement to step back from time to time and refocus on our underlying task. Continue reading →

Response by David Holyoake to “It’s the culture, stupid!”

While not a direct response to Tim’s essay, the following article from David Holyoake, from a new UK arts activist collective, Forever Swarm, explores similar themes from a UK perspective. The article was first published in Voices, Global Call for Climate Action 7 April 2015.

Arts and culture – the missing link to winning the climate fight  Continue reading →

Response by Melanie Lowe to “The oldest game in town”

In his essay ‘The Oldest Game in Town’ Senator Scott Ludlam eloquently describes cities as complex systems that are dependent on the natural environment. He argues for the need for systemic change to our cities, re-orienting them towards more environmentally sustainable forms of infrastructure and economic activity. Senator Ludlam points towards the benefits this could have for the liveability of urban environments and the lifestyles of residents. Continue reading →

Response by James Clark to ‘What does it mean to change everything?’

In September 2013, Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein stood on stage at a conference of one of Canada’s largest unions to deliver a historic speech. The speech, Why Unions Need to Join the Climate Fight, was a call to action for the union movement to break free of their issue and industry silos and use their size and power to dream big and make big demands. The speech was made more remarkable by the fact her audience represented energy, forestry and auto workers, not an audience typically associated with climate activism. Continue reading →

Response by Ted Trainer to ‘What does it mean to change everything?’

I want to commend Simon for his discussion “What does it mean to “change everything”?  He takes up the core theme raised by Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”, which exposes serious deficiencies in previous green thinking and action. Both point to the essential and difficult issue that the discussion of the environmental problem should be focused on … but isn’t.  Following is a brief indication of how I have been arguing about these issues for a long time. Continue reading →