This post is about the sorts of political and media processes that we have in place in Australia, and some alternatives.
How do citizens interact with our democracy? The majority vote for individuals that represent them every three or four years or in each of the upper and lower houses at Federal and State levels as well as councillors at Local Government levels (except where an administrator is in place). Most individual politicians are members of parties (Labour, Liberal, National, Coalition, Greens). Occasionally there is a referendum on some issue. Plus get to do Jury Duty every so often (on average ?)
The traditional Media – newspapers, TV, radio – provide a channel for the communication of ideas but mainly one way. Though a limited number of people do interact via letters to the editor.
With some of the new Media – such as GetUp, Twitter, FaceBook and other online sites – there is the possibility of some interaction, though to a fairly limited audience (compared to the numbers of subscribers to traditional Media, though this is changing).
There are some examples of other forms of interaction: deliberative democratic processes e.g. Australian Citizens Parliament (2009?) and Surf Coast examples.
Debating though is the most common form of interaction in our democratic forums (e.g. parliament, TV programs like SBS Insight, Newspapers).
Define: Debate (Oxford Concise Dictionary)
- contest, fight for, dispute about, discuss (a question) hold argument especially in Parliament or public meeting; consider, ponder
- controversy, discussion, public argument
From debat, debattre de- BATTLE
Another form of political process is deliberation, as seen above.
Define: Deliberation (Oxford Concise Dictionary)
Weighing in mind, careful consideration; discussion of reasons for and against, debate; care, avoidance of precipitancy; slowness of movement
From librare weigh f libra balance
Note the differences between these two words. The basis of debating is battling, fighting and contest, getting it over and done with quickly, where deliberating is about taking time for careful weighing and considering.
The balancing needed within the context of the complex of concerns which is the subject of this blog is not like the scales (as traditionally used in the context of a courtroom where everything is held still) but like the balancing on a bicycle where it is “in process”. It requires taking in the whole context and negotiating a path while moving.
The latest research around ways to engender effective ways of working indicates that conversation is potentially transformative (see AcKnowledge website The Art of Conversation and also Connected_Conversations by New Economics Foundation (UK).
The work of the New Economics Foundation has gone some way towards moving our public ways-of-working towards this in the UK (together with their affiliation in the USA), but what about here in Australia?