Friday, November 15, 2013

Work Makes You Free

Satirising the blatant upside-down statements of Nazi Germany, where the gates to death camps were signposted "Work makes you free", George  Orwell's famous book, "1984" (published in 1949) includes the line, "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

The power of the spoken word to contradict actions is nowhere more obvious than in pronouncements of the current Australian government.

In action, the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, is busily dismantling policies like carbon pricing that has begun to reduce Australia's carbon emissions. He wants to defund renewable energy initiatives and dismantle climate policy advisory bodies. He has already dumped the Climate Commission – an independent body set up to provide reliable and authoritative source of information on climate change, and help inform the debate on this issue of national significance.

His Direct Action alternative policy reverses the widely accepted “polluter pays” policy to “pay the polluter”. It fails to focus on fossil fuels (responsible for three-quarters of Australia’s emissions plus exports), is inequitable, unworkable, limited by the available budget, may encourage inflation and manipulation of abatement cost, and is difficult to quantify. This increases uncertainty and ramps up the potential for political games.

While he takes a wrecking ball to effective policies, he repeats the mantra, "Climate change is real and we should take strong action against it."

What to believe? Words or action?

Few people who entered Auschwitz believed the words over the gate. The activities inside the camp belied those words profoundly.

Similarly, Australians can't believe Greg Hunt's words because they are so dischordant with his actions. He's practising the upside-down communication that leads to nonsensical pronouncements like "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."

In this case, our ignorance is the Coalition government's strength. That's why they are clamping down on information flows in every way they can. It's much easier to govern an ignorant population.

1 comment:

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