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Judging by the company we keep...

by Ian McPherson

For years, I took no interest in political affairs or debate. It is far easier, in some ways, to take what is dished out by our leaders and just join the line at the checkout. But I found myself incensed at the latest Iraq invasion, and at the misleading manner in which our leaders swindled the public into supporting their neo-colonial resource war. Our other military engagements closer to home, in particular our involvement in East Timor, I found just as misleading and contrived, as it too smelt of neo-colonial greed over vital resources.

It is clear to me now that the world, and Australia, are in a perilous position; drawn and quartered over rapidly depleting oil and gas supplies, or hung out to dry over climate change and habitat destruction. This is not a time to be timid or quiet, or to bow one's head to the inevitable. It is a time to be vocal and to argue the political toss. I no longer believe in the War on Terror. We are involved in a War on People, as the world's more predatory corporate interests look further afield for their shareholder's returns and economic growth.

Unless we actively fight this ominous trend, by rejecting onerous seed patents, inhumane resource wars, the destruction of the environment, the extinction of species, and work to address the population destruction that will accompany climate change, it is hard to see that we will deserve a life worth living in the future. We cannot continue to treat this planet as one huge mine and toxic dump, useful only to propel our exorbitant western lifestyles, and expect it to repair itself without a major geophysical event that will allow it to recover.

Webdiary gave me the chance to talk about these issues, and debate some of the people who believe our current system can accommodate these enormous challenges to the longevity of the human race. Suffice it to say that there are few other forums in the mainstream media that would have had the courage to do so. But, more importantly, Webdiary also gave me the courage to take that message further, to educate and engage, and to help take some of these debates to our political leaders, who many of us believe are "sleepwalking into the future".

Lester Brown, world-famous environmentalist, is renowned for his statement: "Saving the world is not a spectator sport." I now believe that too, as do many who contribute to Webdiary. We may not all agree on the relative priority of these issues or their potential solutions, but the commitment and passion shown by the Webdiary writers and readers is always thoughtful, timely and commendable.

There's an old saying in life that we can be "judged by the company we keep". If that is so, then I am particularly pleased to be in the company of Margo and the many other committed Webdiarists as we move forward into the challenging times ahead!

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re: Judging by the company we keep...

Ian McPherson, I'm glad you think you're in good company, I certainly feel the same way. As in a family, I feel I sometimes could throttle some people whose inability to see sense can sometimes be infuriating. However, we are a family of sorts and for that reason we do give each other the benefit and respect of addressing each others views with often thoughtful and considered arguments.

There are forces at play in this country that are working towards the very opposite of what Webdiary is trying to achieve, namely, the dissemination of open and honest information. It is most evident at present in the campaign and proposed legislation in relation to voluntary student unionism.

The rights and wrongs of compulsory unionism will be argued ad nauseum in the near future but the real agenda will never be revealed by the drivers of the campaign to abolish universal unionism in our campuses.

The agenda is to create new generations where the young are even less interested in politics than they now are. If politics is defunded in universities, the numbers of people discussing issues will be less than they now are. The result? A society very much reflecting that of the US, where less that 40% usually vote any election (bar the latest one, where at a time when the nation was at war, 60% voted).

The less people are interested or informed the easier it is to introduce legislation such as voluntary voting at elections and anything else that might suit the maintenance of a system where those that would see themselves as a ruling elite would always rule.

Take a good look at the US where millionaires rule, where companies dictate to governments by virtue of political parties being dependent on their donations.

Those people have never known what it's like to struggle to pay a mortgage or known the frustration of impotence in the face of shortages of services they take for granted. Those services include education, health, transport, jobs and access to legal services.

This country is fast going down the US way of doing business in all areas mentioned above. Do we want that? We're getting it!

We already have two major parties that sing virtually the same tune on most issues and never undo what the other has done when their turn arrives to occupy the seats of power. Despite their blustering about the evils of the other, they never seem to undo those evils. It's a game to them, alas, it's our life.

So yes Ian, Webdiary does give you the chance to talk about your views on issues. It's a valuable forum, now at a new home, and it behoves all of us to ensure its success. It should be a treasured resource and with justice and a little luck it will become an indispensable one at that.

Lester Brown would say, welcome to the game. I say: Welcome to Webdiary!

re: Judging by the company we keep...

Good for you, Ian.

Back when I was a teenager in the seventies, we feminists had a slogan: "The personal is political."

It had a lot going for it in that context, but now, in terms of green politics, it has an even deeper and more important resonance. I've had a couple of careers, taking thoroughly on board the truism that life isn't a dress rehearsal. First, a lawyer. Then a screenwriter. Now I'm becoming a horticulturist, and the reason for the latest career is simply that we (and thus I, in my small way) need to start looking after this place. I'm starting small and personal: bush regeneration. Maybe when I'm dead it won't add up to much, but maybe I'll have done my bit to stop the loss of habitat and the loss of unique flora and fauna species that makes this continent so magnificent.

But I do wish it'd rain...

re: Judging by the company we keep...

It was my discovery of Peak Oil earlier this year, and resultant Googling for some Australian info/comment that lead me to your post and thus to discovering Webdiary. I still direct people interested in intelligent debate on the subject to that post and the hundreds of comments that followed.

I too am in the process of transforming myself from corporate CEO to something else. I left that world most keen to do doing something that involved learning, but having no clear idea what it was I wanted to learn. Peak Oil has turned out to be an incredible foundation in geo-politics, science, economics, environmentalism, sustainability, trading, philosophy. It has given me the opportunity to converse with a range of fascinating people from all of those disciplines from all over the world. Back home, Webdiary has continued to expose me to a world of (mostly) intelligent, passionate, informed debate that has made my original idea of picking something to study at a local uni seem like a very mundane way of learning indeed.

May Club Chaos thrive and prosper.

PS: it is great not having to go through that ridiculous posting process with the numbers too.

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