Yoram Gat and Patrick Chalmers chew over the UK’s Brexit vote – the June 23 decision by a majority of British voters to leave the European Union.
Patrick argues that the referendum campaign, the vote itself and its messy aftermath show the many layers of Britain’s dysfunctional political system, made clearer than ever.
The case for radical political reform could hardly be stronger.
George Monbiot doesn’t always get things right – I disagreed with his arguments urging Britons to vote “no” in the Brexit referendum, for instance. Yet he hits the proverbial bullseye more often than most commentators.
This recent column on media failures to communicate climate change is a belter, the most relevant paragraphs being the last couple, which are reproduced here:
Why should we trust multinational corporations to tell us the truth about multinational corporations? And if they cannot properly inform us about the power in which they are embedded, how can they properly inform us about anything?
If humanity fails to prevent climate breakdown, the industry that bears the greatest responsibility is not transport, farming, gas, oil or even coal. All of them can behave as they do, shunting us towards systemic collapse, only with a social licence to operate.
The problem begins with the industry that, wittingly or otherwise, grants them this licence: the one for which I work.
Frome ex-mayor Peter Macfadyen (not the current mayor, as incorrectly stated in the interview) talks in this audio interview of how a group of ordinary people in southwest England took control of their local government by standing as non-party, independent candidates.
His story involves a group of local residents – meeting in a pub, of course – who took control of their town council at their first attempt then swept all the seats on their second.
A second video episode of Democracy Talk to add to the audio series hosted here (https://soundcloud.com/patrickchalmers/sets/democracy-talk) – this one featuring Yoram Gat as the questioner and me, Patrick Chalmers, as the interview subject.
In this episode Patrick Chalmers and Yoram Gat talk about Patrick’s inside view of establishment journalism. Patrick presents his analysis of the roots of the problems with journalism and their connection to the problems of our systems of government.
Patrick’s book – Fraudcast News – How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies – can be found online here: http://fraudcastnews.net.
I’m a big admirer of the work done by Glenn Greenwald, not just in his efforts with the US whistleblower Edward Snowden but also for his ongoing work in exposing and commenting on the realities of US foreign policy. He and Jeremy Scahill have just come out with a new book on the US drone wars called “The Assassination Complex”, previewed here on the indefatigable Democracy Now! Looks like a must-read to me.
Greenwald’s withering assessment of the ongoing US primaries, Democrat and Republican, which he made during the same programme, bears repeating in full.
The “they” he is referring to are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, though both he and Scahill are justifiably critical of Bernie Sanders too.
Well, I mean, I just think it’s—in some sense, Washington, D.C.—not the United States, but Washington, D.C.—is getting exactly the election they deserve. These are the two most unpopular presidential candidates ever to run, I think, in 30 years. They have the highest unfavorable ratings of any nominees in decades. The only thing they’re able to do to one another is try and be as toxic and nasty and destructive as possible, because everybody has already decided, more or less, that they’re so unlikable. And so, it’s going to be the opposite of an inspiring election. It’s just going to be two extremely unpopular people trying to destroy the other on both a personal level, backed by huge amounts of money and serving more or less the same interests. And I think the two parties and the establishment leaders in Washington, and the people who support and run that whole system, have gotten exactly the election that they deserve. Unfortunately, Americans are going to have to suffer along with them.
It really is that bad.
So the most powerful nation on the planet – thereby the most powerful government in history given the weaponry at its disposal – shows no imminent signs of substantive political change at the top.
That makes the work of finding better ways of political decision-making, such as sortition and participatory budgets, all the more critical. If that link seems obscure think of it as the difference between government by the people – “democracy” – versus government by a wealthy few – “oligarchy“.
That’s why I’m planning on ramping up Democracy Talk – an as-yet experimental audio and video reporting series focused on innovations in our political decision-making processes and accompanying commentary on the quality of existing ones.
Democracy Talk TV – this inaugural episode sees presenters Patrick Chalmers and Yoram Gat tackle the question of “sortition” – what it is and why it might produce far fairer and more transparent political decisions than currently emerge from electoral politics.