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Democracy By-Pass as The World Turns.

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‘Sometimes I think a parody of democracy could be more dangerous than an obvious dictatorship, because it gives people the opportunity to
avoid doing at least something about it.’ Aung San Suu Kyi.

When many of us have lived in a democracy all our lives, we tend to take it for granted. We don’t think that political is personal. You may wonder why I am writing about this as a Process Oriented Therapist. It is mainly that I am moved to speak out because of the suffering caused to human beings by divisive  ‘Tea party politics’ and the attempt to turn Australia into a certain USA political approach of the 1% shall have it all. Also I am outraged that elected Government Ministers not only think they are above the law, but indeed are showing daily, that they flaunt the law and get away with it.

“Increased awareness makes us more human ..and more difficult to deceive.”
W.H. Auden.

Maybe I am still quite naïve or perhaps, the machinations of power and control have been so well hidden from us, we are still shocked when the truth of what our governments and security services actually do is revealed. Most is kept secret from the general public and information only filters out, usually through a courageous individual.

“The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”  Mahatma Gandhi


A friend of mine told me; “there are certain things we need to get angry about.” When I processed my anger, I realised that it ‘gets me over my edge’ of fear in speaking out. In Process Oriented Psychology, I always believe in being able to look at both sides. Yet, at present I seem unable to ‘pick up the other side,’ apart from knowing that we can all be somewhat selfish and greedy, try to  hang on to what we have and and influence things in a way we think they need to go. Yet, there is a point where I reach a ‘No. This is not ok.’ If we do not speak what we believe in, when will we ever?

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”  Gandhi

I believe that as time ticks on and the world changes which is how it should be, there are still certain basic human rights that still need to be valued and protected. They include equality of each life, being free, equal opportunity, justice, non-discrimination, privacy, freedom of speech and thought etc. Perhaps every generation as they age, thinks that things are going too far in an ominous direction. Yet…

‘The future depends on what we do in the present.” Gandhi

 Fear is engineered and amplified by neo-liberalism so that people become too scared to have a voice. In short, neo –liberalism means the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. That’s what it’s designed for. Its economic agenda deprives many of access to jobs and the means to support themselves. Then they are blamed for being poor and welfare payments are cut. Its political agenda is to produce feelings of anxiety, helplessness and vulnerability. People are bombarded with threats and the media and corporations collaborate to create a state of suppression.

This is achieved either through actual law eg. in Australia now, if you report anything as a journalist in the press which is deemed as ‘dangerous’ or become a ‘whistle blower’, you will go to prison for 10 years. Or there are more devious means of basically keeping people quiet.

“You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” C. Chavez

Neoliberals have an agenda to privatize public enterprises, ensure the rise of corporate ownership.  It replaces self-governance mechanisms instead of official government regulations and dissolves welfare state responsibilities. It also infuses profit and entrepreneurship into social institutions such as science and the arts etc.  You are possibly saying, “surely not here in Australia?”


Actually whatever our politics, it is impossible to deny that restriction of freedom of speech has arrived and I feel it’s time to say, ‘This is not ok.”  Traditionally, psychology and therapy deals purely with the individual. However the world has changed and I strongly advocate that it is actually a responsibility, particularly for those of us in the ‘caring’ professions to speak out. Process Oriented Psychology, founded by Dr. Arnold Mindell has always included this ‘world channel’ or global level in its work. We recognise that in working with racism, homophobia, refugees, war, large group conflicts, deep democracy (not majority rule but every voice being heard) etc. we can no longer act as if people just have individual problems with no social, economic and political context.

 “Whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as an event.”   C.G. Jung


It can take us time to realize that democracy is possibly under threat in eg. Australia, England or America.  By then, it may be too late to stop the growth of ‘dictatorship,’ and rule by corrupt governments who are solely interested in pursuing their own agenda on behalf of global corporations.

They use the latest technology to invade every area of our life, bring in laws that take away basic freedom of speech from the community and create an even larger  divide between rich and poor. In Australia, the government has recently dodged the democratic process and by-passed Parliament to bring in new taxes.

However, the Opposition mainly votes with the elected government as they do not want to be seen as Un-Australian. Nationalism is posed as ‘Team Australia’ framing any debate as ‘you are either with us or against us’. The Murdoch press actually ‘pulls the strings in the background’ while the Ministers line their own pockets with dodgy developer deals. (10 Liberal MP’s in one state alone, front the Independent Commission of Corruption almost weekly and numerous ongoing investigations haunt the Labor party)
The Coal -ition  makes billions by denying climate change and pays the mining magnates to keep polluting the planet.

‘Corruption and oppression are common threats to democracy.’

 It is beyond most of our imaginings  (though we may have heard family stories or seen events unfold overseas) that democracy can be overturned quite quickly. We tend to trust our government and cannot believe that they would really do ‘bad’ things to people, despite growing evidence. Or we think that if we ‘have nothing to hide’, what is the problem? It’s actually not about our honesty and integrity. Little do we realize that having nothing to hide in a democratic country  becomes irrelevant as seen in Germany before the 2nd World war.


‘First they came for the unemployed, pensioners and disabled, but I did not speak out,
because I was not unemployed,  a pensioner or disabled.

Then they came for the refugee ‘boat people’ but I did not speak out,
because I was not a refugee.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, but I did not speak out,
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the climate change scientists, but I did not speak out,
because I was not a scientist.

Then they came for me and there was no-one left to speak for me.
Even if there had been, they would be sent to jail for 10 years in Australia!’

(With thanks to Martin Niemoller for his original poem written in 1946)


I am currently reading a book called ‘February House’ by Sherrill Tippins. In it, the English poet  W.H.Auden was writing about the rapidly changing world situation just before the 2nd World war. “Violence was ‘successful like a new disease” he wrote in ‘Sonnets from China.’ Fascism no longer appeared to be an evil force, visited on the public from above and below, but a sickness that lived within each individual and could be easily tapped, given the appropriate circumstances and timing.”

When I look at the circumstances coming close to the end of 2014, I fear the world is getting dark again, as in the pre-war 1940’s. War, disease, greed, corruption, fear, invasive technology, food and medicine patented by global corporations, China buying up most of the world, religious wars, climate change denied, fracking, abuse of human rights, media bias and control, slavery…the list goes on


Having a voice when we are fearful of repercussions is a challenging and confronting process, when it just feels easier and safer to disappear into our own lives and ‘hang out’ at the beach and not draw attention to ourselves. However, I feel we all need to speak out, whether we agree or disagree, as this is truly what genuine democracy is.

So I will finish with some particularly inspiring quotes by brilliant people which have touched me on my journey and remind me in my darkest hours that we, as a human race, somehow seem to muddle through with the help from such amazing leaders. I long for real world ‘elders’, rather than the absence of wisdom, integrity and honesty in some of our governments today!

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death
your right to say it.”

“The difference between what we are doing and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world’s problems.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Justice cannot be done for one side alone, but must be done for both.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”  Martin Luther King

“You can choose to look the other way, but you can never say again
that you did not know.” 

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” Gandhi

‘By studying other viewpoints, it’s possible to gain new perspectives on the world.’ HH. Dalai Lama

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 (Thanks to Tao de Haas)

About the Author
Sherry (BSc. Sociology; MAA. Social Work, AMHSW; Masters Science Soc. Ecology; Diplomate, Process Psychology) is a faculty Director of ANZPOP.

She has offered expert psychological counselling in Australia and overseas since 1989. Sherry is currently based in both the Sydney CBD and on the Northern Beaches near Manly. She also offers national and international phone and Skype appointments.

If you would like more information or wish to reference something you have read on this website please contact Sherry.

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