Society

Democracy Dies in the Absence of Trust

The spectacle in Melbourne not long ago of battle lines of police girded and shielded like space-age gladiators firing rubber bullets and tear gas into crowds of civilians is not one we would ever have expected to see in Australia. It’s long been the norm in less happy places but most Australians would have witnessed that sort of confrontation only on grainy newsreels in TV documentaries about Paris in 1968 or Prague in 1968.

We certainly didn’t see it in the Melbourne “Black Lives Matter” demonstration at the outset of Victoria’s now semi-permanent lockdowns last year. The police conspicuously stood idly by during that, as they mostly did when adherents of the same public-spirited organisation went burning and looting in the United States.

In fact some police in Victoria now think they shouldn’t have to trouble themselves with public protests at all. They want to shut down public transport when future protests loom to stop the protestors getting there. Wouldn’t it be simpler for them to lock people up in advance, before they’ve had the opportunity to exercise their democratic right? That’s what Victorian police did with the pregnant mother accused of inciting protest against lockdowns last September.

What has happened to our country?

Arbitrary arrest and police engaging in street wars with the public on what were once the sedate avenues of Melbourne show that something has gone seriously wrong in our understanding of law and order and of the function of a police force in a democracy. Why would Victoria’s police boast of having spent $500 million fitting themselves out with armour-plating and “military-grade” weapons when there is no enemy army to fight? Why have they come to regard the public as an enemy? – or at least that section of the public which bridles at being bossed around by a dictatorial Premier who has sidelined parliament to rule by fiat. The public pays the police wages; they have funded the stormtrooper get-up. How can they be at war with the police?

What has happened is the collapse of trust. The public have ceased to trust the police because the police don’t trust the public. Neither does the hard-left junta that now runs Victoria and has made the police the praetorian guard of its pandemic policies. And this is not confined to one Australian state, though heaven knows Victorian Police have set a national benchmark for politicised vindictiveness and internal corruption with such unpunished scandals as exploiting the confidential relationship between a lawyer and her clients and trying to frame George Pell.

All around the Anglosphere and beyond trust between rulers and ruled is declining. In Australia it hasn’t been so low since the Whitlam debacle. This is because the rulers have forgotten that they rule by permission of the ruled, by their consent. They are not masters but servants. But we have become so used to relying on governments for just about everything that we have played into the hands of the assorted control freaks and egomaniacs who get themselves into positions of authority, who fall over each other to scramble higher up the ladder of what was once considered an honourable profession of public service. They hold us in contempt. We shrug our shoulders and murmur about “crooked pollies” or “self-serving idiots” and leave them to get on with it.

We used to trust our governments, whether we voted for the party in power or not, to do their best to look after everyone’s best interests. We don’t any more because governments like Victoria’s have shown that they only look after the interests of the minority factions that screech the loudest and reflect its prejudices.

Trust is a condition that makes our society work as a cooperative enterprise. But more and more you notice its absence. Not just with the used-car salesmen and bookies who, perhaps unfairly, have never been held in public esteem as paragons of trustworthiness (along of course with the politicians) but with the “respectable” professions. Who, for example, hasn’t wondered, if told by the dentist that expensive treatment is needed, whether it’s needed even more to cover the next instalment on the dentist’s beach house? If we trusted as we used to do that wouldn’t cross our minds.

Trust has faded partly because it’s been devalued. Its name has been taken in vain, often by advertising and PR. We are invited, for example, to trust a health fund because it “cares” when we know that a corporate entity, if it can “care” at all, cares only about its profits. We are asked to swallow, on trust, the shortest lie ever told, that our hopelessly biased national broadcaster is “Your ABC” when only its “friends” are fooled by that; the rest of us know it’s “ours” only inasmuch as the taxpayer pours into its coffers the prodigious sums that enable it to go on disseminating views and attitudes most of us don’t share. In international affairs we are learning that the élite orchestrators of the “Great Reset” are emphatically not to be trusted and that their slogan “Build Back Better” has nothing to do with construction and quality but is a verbal mask to cover the imposition of “global governance” by unelected authoritarians intent on filching what’s left of our freedom.

But far more damaging than semantic misuse has been the betrayal of trust by those in whom it was placed. Clerics who took advantage of children have squandered their right to be trusted and are regarded with cynicism and suspicion. Journalists, particularly of the Left, who don’t report what they don’t want the public to know have polluted their own nest. So have schools and universities which teach the young to hate their civilisation, and “health professionals” who have sold themselves to Big Pharma and its allied ideologues for whom lockdowns are a means not so much of controlling a pandemic but of controlling the population.

Yet ultimately the lack of trust comes down to ourselves. A society that can’t trust itself to respect the law if unsupervised – where everyone speeds, for instance, when out of range of the cameras – is a society in which people won’t trust each other. The frustrating thing is that, beyond trying to act trustworthily ourselves, there’s not much any of us can do about this. Perhaps it’s too late to do anything. In a world in which race and gender are the criteria for everything what place is there for trust? But if we don’t rediscover it our society is condemned to fragment further until we are reduced to a Babel of individuals at war with each other.

We used to trust our governments, whether we voted for the party in power or not, to do their best to look after everyone’s best interests. We don’t any more because governments, like Victoria’s regime and its nakedly politicised police force, have shown that they only look after the interests of the minority factions that screech the loudest and reflect its prejudices

17 comments
  • andrew2

    Really good article this. Being a Catholic, I have pondered the clerical sex abuse crisis carefully. I think the crux of the issue comes down to two things. Do you judge a person in authority to be a person of goodwill? Do you judge the people behind the person in authority, the people who put that person in his place, to be people of goodwill? The church says “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace to people of goodwill”. You know goodwill when you see it and you know when it is lacking. The problem has been that people have been too negligent (lazy, asleep, trusting) to look at those in charge (politicians, priests, police, teachers) with a critical eye and judge them on the criteria of goodwill. If a person is not of goodwill, you should not listen to them, you should ridicule them and if it is in your power you should remove all authority from them.

  • ianl

    If one values the opportunity to express publicly what one thinks on issues without fear of political/bureaucratic (police) reprisal, then the most recent HC decision on “social media” comment is devastating, although not for the reasons talking heads on TV (clever, clever journos) insist on.
    This is an example where there is no trust at all between high-up lawyers, journos whose spiel is “informing the public”, and those who are regarded by both these groups as the ignorant great unwashed. The distrust is deep and runs in all directions simultaneously.
    The obvious result of the HC decision will be the quite rapid dearth of free comment, since everyone except the actual commenter will be clobbered, leading to mass withdrawal for protection. Our fearless MSM talking heads are becoming uncomfortably aware of this, but oh so slowly.
    Of course the HC expects this. It’s the point of the decision.

  • STD

    Bottom line , a society whose focus is rectally introspective is in terminal decline. Most Australians wouldn’t know what honesty or truth was ,if it bit them on the backside- we are a country of ACTORS AND MOST OF US ARE NOT EVEN REMOTELY FAIR DINKUM.

    Australians need to wake up to themselves , the Chinese and the Indians as well as ,all inclusively the Muslim world don’t think we are idiots they know we are a country of mugs.
    Whatever happened to that wonderful jewel of humanity that was exemplified by the old Australia?
    Meanwhile China, Japan and Germany incorporated are winning the civil war we call globalisation.
    What a stupid people we are- we have given our country to the rest of the world.
    WE ENTRUSTED IT TO THE LOWEST FORM OF LIFE- politicians.

  • Peter Marriott

    Good article Christopher. One of the problems of course, at least in my mind, is too many laws, with reams of totally unnecessary, almost whimsical regulations and directions from all quarters heaped on top of the laws, all the way down to Council level. A good yardstick to measure it all by, apart from the philosophical metaphysics, is one you mentioned, the car speeding out of sight of the cameras. Is it any wonder we do, when confronted with so many speed limits all over the place, many seeming to be merely a revenue collector with an entire sub-branch of the police force fully armed and kitted out collecting it, and fabulous TV shows to promote it all. The safest roads I’ve experienced in my years of driving have in fact been those with no speed limits, and it wasn’t because of vehicle density. It was because there was a greater sense of responsibility because it was all left to you. Just the overhead road signs can be asinine, repetitive and seemingly only serving to ram home the controlling big brother is watching, and looking after you, message.

  • brennan1950

    With reference to goodwill and speeding fines; I at times travel over 1,000 kilometres a week as do many.

    With up to to 10 speed signs on a highway from one side of a small town to another, I could not keep my licence if I did not rigorously use my cruise control.

    If speed is such a safety issue, why is the use of cruise control not widely advocated by government agencies?

  • STD

    “Now listen Job , to what I
    know.
    Wise men have taught me
    truths
    which they learned from
    their fathers,
    and they kept no secrets
    hidden.
    Their land was free from
    foreigners;
    there was no one to lead
    them away from God.
    Psalm 15, 17-19

  • pgang

    Oh good, another ‘speeding’ virtue signaller. That pretty much rendered the entire article moot.

  • whitelaughter

    When was this era of ‘trusting govts’? Before the Khemlani affair, I presume. One of the reasons battles like the Australia Card were won was because people knew better than to trust governments!

  • Louis Cook

    It started going bad when morning assembly at school stopped saying “I Love God and My Country,
    I Honour the Flag, I will Serve the King (Queen), and Cheerfully Obey My Parents, Teachers, and The Laws.
    All of the institutions mentioned are under attack!
    To advocate that today can have you scorned and ostracized. There is no other way to restore sanity to this sad Country but hardly possible because of the fragmentation visited on us by mendacious politicians.
    Secret ballots should be ‘out’ on polling day and ‘in’ in the Parliaments.
    Personal responsibility for decision makers should be the ‘order of the day’!

  • Winston Smith

    Yes, we no longer trust our leaders – this is a consequence of their contempt for us.
    If we cannot trust them, then they must fear us.
    That’s the situation their contempt has led us to, and they worked hard to get here.

  • vickisanderson

    Like so many others, I have been shaken by the relinquishment of so many freedoms with so little resistance from Australians. It has startled and surprised many of our overseas admirers.

    Why have we abandoned our famous laconic scepticism and larrikin independence? I guess every nation is a sum of its constituents. Characteristics are the product of history.

    But what western country has not been subject to globalisation and the reshaping of its tenets and beliefs by those of other nations?

    In Australian parlance, “I think we were sold a pup with globalisation”.

  • davyddwilliams

    One didn’t need to be prescient to see, fifty years ago, that what has since happened to Australia would be the inevitable outcome of the cultural manipulation that began to take effect in the 1970s. We are, after all, only reaping what we have sown.
    We can blame politicians as much as we like, but the real culprit is the Great Australian Apathy. Citizens took their citizenship for granted and, as long as their lifestyles were allowed to continue, they didn’t confront the political duopoly that has since destroyed what was the most prosperous and free nation at its incorporation in 1901.
    Fabian Marxists have colonised the great institutions that once protected our liberties and our way of life. Our Universities exported this alien bacillus firstly into our schools, then the media, the Church, the Parliaments, the Law Courts and finally, into our business corporations.
    Their destructive task has been accomplished; the wind has been sown and we will now reap the whirlwind.

  • davyddwilliams

    One didn’t need to be prescient to see, fifty years ago, that what has since happened to Australia would be the inevitable outcome of the cultural manipulation that began to take effect in the 1970s. We are, after all, only reaping what we have sown.
    We can blame politicians as much as we like, but the real culprit is the Great Australian Apathy. Citizens took their citizenship for granted and, as long as their lifestyles were allowed to continue, they didn’t confront the political duopoly that has since destroyed what was the most prosperous and free nation at its incorporation in 1901.
    Fabian Marxists have colonised the great institutions that once protected our liberties and our way of life. Our Universities exported this alien bacillus firstly into our schools, then the media, the Church, the Parliaments, the Law Courts and finally, into our business corporations.
    Their destructive task has been accomplished; the wind has been sown and we will now reap the whirlwind.

  • bearops

    Winston Smith, Succinctly and poetically expressed comment expressing my seething rage at these betrayals from those we endorsed and trusted.

  • W L & K M Ranken

    Thank you. Excellent.
    Could you please look into why so few people now consider it appropriate or worthwhile to be involved in helping create the society they want, most especially evident in the declining and aging membership of major political parties. We all seem happy to complain. Why do so few take action and join a party, any party?

  • STD

    @WL & KM Ranken. “ Why do so few take action and join a party, any party”.
    Because you don’t socialise with people you work with ( you generally don’t like or find appealing) – their not good company and the prospect doesn’t deliver much joy, maybe?

  • quaestio

    My answer is another Quote. This one is from Thurgood Marshall. 1908 – 1993 United States Supreme Court Justice.
    “HIstory teaches us that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure”. Once again!. Know your history. It is no accident that the leaders in the West at this point in time happen to be rabid Socialists, Biden, Macron, Trudeau, Merkel, (about to exit the stage), Johnson, Sturgeon, Adern, Morrison. This is just an opinion. Biden, Macron, Trudeau, Sturgeon, and Adern were a given but the facade has fallen I believe to expose the other two.

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