Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Crown protects our civic rights

Three republican opinion pieces in a row, that’s a new record even for Melbourne's daily newspaper The Age. But it demonstrates beyond doubt, how much energy can be set free by thinking about Queen’s Birthday. And a lot of thinking they must do, considering that the latest pro-republican author Christopher Scanlon conceded "the debate about whether Australia should become a republic has had about as much substance as an issue of New Weekly". And to no Monarchist’s surprise he found out: "Even supporters of the republic are hard pressed to explain the meaning of republicanism".

His remedy for the ailing republican movement in Australia is to turn towards "the much longer and richer tradition of republican ideas". Should you now expect any suggestion on how a republican system could improve the life of the ordinary Australian, then Christopher Scanlon leaves you clueless. "In the ideal republic, the greatest freedom is experienced not by Robinson Crusoe, but by a person living in a society where the exercise of power is checked by laws, and where everyone has equal ability to exercise these laws. For republicans, the goal is not only to ensure that arbitrary interference does not happen, but that the very capacity for arbitrary interference is removed."

You may wonder, what he really wants that isn’t already in force in Australia. What is he complaining about? "In recent years, though, the threat of arbitrary interference has grown. Proposed changes to telecommunications laws have sought to give police powers to intercept telephone calls without independent oversight. This has come on top of anti-terror laws that permit a person suspected of engaging in or aiding a terrorist attack to be held without charge for 48 hours." He is right in mentioning these appalling laws, but could he have missed, where all the ideas for the new laws came from? Hasn't he spotted the USA as the republican nation that declares war on everything and everyone? The great republic across the Pacific Ocean became independent in 1776, yet that republican superpower is responsible for the Guantanamo Bay prison system and the mockery of a judicial system that takes place there. The USA are at the top of the list of executions worldwide, barring the other republican superpower the People's (!) Republic (!) of China. But Christopher Scanion is not so much afraid of that sort of restriction of liberty rights for those unfortunate people who suffer under the republican death penalty, but of "arbitrary interference".

Surely he knows, who is demanding fingerprints from all travellers. The collected fingerprints from completely innocent people are kept indefinitely and nobody - except a few insiders - knows what happens to the data collected from millions of people. Even if you avoid going to the USA, you are subjected to US demands: The currently standardized biometrics used for the new type of passports with electronic identification systems, the facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, and iris recognition are introduced worldwide due to USA pressure. Our freedom is not restricted because we enjoy having the Queen of Australia, but because republicans - with small and capital R - cannot collect enough data from us. Does Christopher Scanion really believe, an Australian president would do anything against that?

I wonder, what Christopher thinks about the increasing pressure from the US about Digital Rights Managment ie copyright controls to prevent fair use of copyrighted works and the extension of copyright from 50 to 75 years to ... who knows how long for the benefit of powerful "big media" (of which The Age is a part). Republics where big business set the tone are threatening us all.

I am equally opposed to “arbitrary interference” of any kind, as I wrote before on this blog and I would like to co-operate with Christopher Scanlon in fighting them back and put them, where they should belong: in the dustbin of outdates laws. But despite all efforts I cannot see how in these political fields any republic in the world is doing better than Australia. The points he raises have nothing to do with republicanism, Christopher Scanlon wants civic rights. In that case there is not difference between me as a Monarchist and him as a republican. I see my civic rights better protected by a Monarch than by an elected president who owes his allegiance to parties, pressure groups, his bankers and opinion polls.

No comments: