Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.Of course, Churchill also said "'Keep England White' is a good slogan," got hammered every night, never got up before midday and was keen on gassing Arab villages, so perhaps we should take his ideas with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, in this instance I think he was more or less right: as flawed as democracy is, the other options are all worse. And I say this as a person who has read a lot of Your Views.
As always, there's a qualification. The ancient Greeks supposedly recognised three 'pure' forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. They also recognised that, without vigilance, all three could easily be corrupted - monarchy could become autocracy, aristocracy could turn into oligarchy, and democracy could become anarchy. Back in the old days anarchy didn't (just) mean throwing a brick through a McDonald's shopfront; there was no leader, but also no leadership structure, and decisions would be made based on the passions of the populace (except the women and slaves, of course).
In other words, it would be kind of like a world of binding referenda:
Organisers of past referenda ignored by governments have lent their weight to Saturday's march over the anti-smacking referendum, billed as "the biggest march in New Zealand's history".Well of course they are upset if they think they've been ignored, but the reality is totally different. The governments didn't ignore their referenda; they looked at them, read them, considered them and, in full possession of the facts, decided they were ridiculous.
Also, I think you'll find that it was not an anti-smacking referendum - it was a pro-smacking referendum. Just thought I would clear that up.
How can Garth McVicar claim that his referendum was ignored? If it's the one I vaguely remember about tougher sentences for violent offenders, then he must surely be delighted with the results - our prisons are literally overflowing with people!
Organisers from past referendums - including Garth McVicar who led the referendum on Law and order, Margaret Robertson who campaigned for 99 MPs and the organiser of the last anti-smacking referendum Sheryl Savill - appeared at a media conference this morning.
March organiser Colin Craig called past referendum organisers "true New Zealand heroes".
I wouldn't be so sure. The Destiny march got more than 10,000 people chanting 'Enough is Enough', yet immorality is still rampant: topless prostitutes wander the streets, and homosexuals openly fornicate with single mothers in parks and town squares. Writing a passionate comment on Your Views is one thing; getting up on a Saturday morning and marching up Queen St to defend 'democracy' is quite another.
Mr Craig said he hoped the march would focus attention on past referenda that have been ignored by governments going back to the 1990s.
"I think the people will win out."
Yet that is exactly what I am suggesting you - we - do. Democracy's greatest heroes, from Thomas Jefferson to Tony Blair, appeared to me in a dream and showed me a glorious vision: a vision of sensible people, people like you and me, joining the march and showing it to be ridiculous. I am inviting you to come to the march! (You may already be going, in which case this is a bit awkward.)
At the moment it's a bit difficult to tell what the emphasis of the march is: mob rule or hitting children. The organisers are emphasising the former, but in a country where most people's closest experience with democracy is voting for Dancing with the Stars I can't see many people getting out of bed for that. Surely almost all the opposition today to the s59 amendment is simply petulance - petulance that would, ironically, normally see a child smacked.
Given that police on site will probably frown on people marching with pitchforks and flaming torches, we may have to do with banners. Should none of the banners from the March for Democracy website suit, here are a few suggestions:
- Do what the mob says!
- Down with Auntie Helen!
- Start talking smack!
- Nannies have no place in raising our children!
- Down with this sort of thing!
1.30pm, Saturday 21 November (this Saturday)
Corner of Fort St and Queen St in the Auckland CBD
That's just outside the QF Tavern, which would be a good place for a pre-march beer.