Hamilton is no friend of democracy

Recently in The Age Clive Hamilton published an op-ed calling the campaign by the miners against the government’s proposed mining tax an attempt ‘by plutocrats to destroy Australian democracy’.

Sinclair Davidson has already reminded us that Clive Hamilton has publicly contemplated suspending democracy to tackle climate change.

But Hamilton’s suspend democracy op-ed was a rare moment of political candour. The Age op-ed is far closer to his standard modus operandi. This is to provide arguments for some major curtailment of liberty but to stop short of proposing it, or do so only in the most general way.

Unlike Hamilton’s plans for ending the consumer society, his implied argument for curtailing the mining industry’s capacity to put its case has some realistic chance of persuading lawmakers. The various proposals to cap campaign expenditures would inevitably spill over into regulation of interest groups (though this may end up being declared unconstitutional).

Whatever the merits of the mining industry’s case, it is a response to the state launching a major attack on the industry. They have every right to defend themselves. Far from being an attempt to destroy democracy, this is the democratic system working effectively to subject politicians to scrutiny and and perhaps accountability.

10 Responses to “Hamilton is no friend of democracy

  • 1
    Russell
    June 16th, 2010 19:24

    I didn’t detect any “implied argument for curtailing the mining industry‚Äôs capacity to put its case has some realistic chance of persuading lawmakers”. Why do you think you did?
    .
    Money talks, and huge amounts of money could allow a small number of very rich people to take over the national conversation. That’s one reason we need a much better national broadcaster than we have. We also need a government much, much more skilled at communication.

  • 2
    Andrew Norton
    June 16th, 2010 19:45

    Russell – Paragraph three. It fits into your ‘money talks’ argument, which is one of the justifications for controlling political expenditure. Though the unions are opposing this, as the major big spending interest group.

  • 3
    Tysen Woodlock
    June 16th, 2010 19:58

    As for the article, I love it when someone demonstrates their lack of objectivity in the first couple of sentences as it allows me to avoid wasting any more of my time. Hamilton describes the present government, partially assisted into office by their union allies, as an “elected government,” but one elected with the assistance of a mining company campaign an “installed” one.

  • 4
    Russell
    June 16th, 2010 20:04

    I don’t see that at all in para three, or anywhere else. What he writes is that we should laugh at them and that there should be public outrage. If he wanted limits on spending he would say so.
    .
    Different but related …. I just read Paul Barry’s article in The Monthly on Brian Burke. Nothing new, but it does leave you thinking how important it is to limit the influence of money on government.

  • 5
    Andrew Norton
    June 16th, 2010 20:28

    Well all interest group claims should be treated sceptically, but it is not an outrage that they are made.

    I haven’t read Barry’s article, but Burke is also a warning at the alternative to letting money talk, which is that influence will even more than now depend on knowing the right people – people like Burke who have been around political parties for a long time.

  • 6
    Alexander
    June 16th, 2010 22:57

    As for the article, I love it when someone demonstrates their lack of objectivity in the first couple of sentences as it allows me to avoid wasting any more of my time.

    You prefer to wait until you reach the end of the article before they demonstrate their lack of objectivity, or would you prefer them to hide it entirely and leave you guessing? I would’ve thought both of these approaches would’ve been vastly more inefficient. Personally, I prefer it when people are up front about their ideas.

    Find me an objective person and I will show you a corpse.

  • 7
    Baz (the ordinary Aussie)
    June 17th, 2010 07:08

    Bang on – this Hamilton chap needs some good sorting out.

  • 8
    JC
    June 17th, 2010 17:11

    He’s beyond that, Baz.

    What I find interesting though is how the Greens party had him up as a candidate recently which just shows their support of free speech, democracy and civil rights is just bullshit otherwise they would never have run Happy Hamilton in Stonnington.

    Lefties are also remarkably silent about him too.

  • 9
    Peter Patton
    June 17th, 2010 19:01

    Well Andrew, you may disagree, but I still maintain Australia has no class of intellectuals. ;)

  • 10
    Yobbo
    June 21st, 2010 09:48

    which just shows their support of free speech, democracy and civil rights is just bullshit

    They are trots, what did you expect?