Some Politicians Appear To Have Morals. So Where Does It All Go So Horribly Wrong?

This is a great little video of Tanya Plibersek making a speech today reminding the government (who spent the day hacking into Bill Shorten over his recent public lie), and the media, that Tony Abbott and this government have been probably the most deceitful government we’ve ever had.  Well at least in modern times.  They make an absolute mockery of our “democracy” and the trust that we are forced to put in the managers of our country.  And while I do love to hear Tanya tell it like it is (I really enjoy it every time she is on ABC’s Q&A show), that’s not really the reason why I am blogging about this today.  Although, I will say, the trashing of democracy by this current government is very relevant to what this page is concerned with.

Anyway, the interesting thing for me in this is that it highlights the ridiculousness of our political system really well. Individually there really are some nominally good people in politics. People you can even begin to believe have morals and some sort of a heart.  And I’m talking mainly about people in the two major parties here, as the minor parties and independents appear to still be human-like and far less corrupted by the political system yet.

So people like Tanya Plibersek.  Penny Wong.  Anthony Albanese.  All from Labor.  And from the Coalition, perhaps people like Malcolm Turnbull and, and, um… well I’m sure there must be one or two there somewhere. ;)  Actually, I know this might shock some people, but even Barnaby Joyce seems like a reasonable human being at times (by the way, screw Jonny Depp’s dogs!  I’m with Barnaby and the good folk at Customs and Quarantine on this).  Anyway, the point is, that as individuals, there are some people in the major parties that do appear to have some sort of not totally stuffed moral compass, and even appear to be able to rationally argue a point (instead of the usual effort in media conferences of obfuscating and sloganeering).  Great!  We have some reasonable people in politics.  And these people are high up in their party’s physical and intellectual hierarchy.  So where (and why) does it all go so horribly wrong??

I think it’s simply a reality of the political process/system.  The dumbing down of the narrative by the media, and the slurping up of it by us voters who are too time poor to invest the necessary time to look into any particular issue in a deep way.  And this is self-reinforcing.  Politicians see that there is little point in investing effort into a calm and intelligent analysis of a problem, when the media is just going to fragment it into a short burst.  A short burst that is designed to create maximum impact and emotion in the viewers, as that is what keeps viewers watching.

Anyway, the specifics of the ‘why’ is not what I wanted to remark on today.  What interests me is the ‘how’ of this, and it’s is a bit more geeky.  It’s a common thing when you have systems.  It’s a bit airy fairy, but it’s fascinating.  It’s the concept of “emergence”.  Think of it kind of like the concept – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.  Now I’m no system dynamicist (if that’s even a thing), so I won’t even try to wibble my way through that intelligently.  But it’s fascinating (and scary, when the system is politics) to see how a collection of individuals who probably mostly had good intentions when they got into politics, and indeed some of them still seem to have good intentions, can collectively comprise a system that so fails in doing the right thing.  That so fails the morality test.  That so fails the rationality test.  That so fails in the self-awareness that the vast majority of the public thinks politicians are liars and aren’t to be trusted.  And I really wonder while I watch speeches by Tanya Plibersek and the like, whether they really comprehend the absurdity of them getting up and making these types of speeches.  Do they realise that they are a part of a system which has as an emergent property of essentially utter disinterest in the real world, and reflect with themselves how ridiculous it is to hold altruistic and moralistic beliefs within such a system?

Who knows? (and who cares?, I hear you saying!)

Well, there’s a bit of a moral to this story.  The moral isn’t that politicians lie, obfuscate, lie, and sometimes even lie.  We already know that perfectly well (and the surveys confirm that we wouldn’t trust these clowns with our kids; yet we trust them to run the country… go figure…).  The moral of the story is that while many of us on either side of the political spectrum look at the minor parties and independents, and consider them human-like and perhaps even credible and with good intentions, if they were ever to get into a position of serious power then the system would take over and corrupt any individual positive traits with the stain of indifference, idiocy, and ultimately shocking levels of dishonesty.  We don’t really need new people in power, we need a whole rejigging of the rotten system.

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