The Non-Human Party will not be participating in the 2022 Australian Federal Election, so here I’m outlining the reasoning behind aligning with the Fusion Party. Above all else, the Fusion Party is pursuing a bold and futuristic vision − it is not the ho-hum incremental thinking that comes to be expected from career politicians; and neither is it the sort of thinking that would originate from self-serving bureaucrats, setting themselves up for a quid-pro-quo job in one of the companies they helped to prop up.
On this point of party incentives, it’s worth pointing out the reason that Fusion’s constituent parties fused together in the first place − it was spurred on by the Party Integrity Bill, which raised the number of required members from 500 to 1500. This inherently makes it harder to challenge the incumbent parties; and it stifles the introduction of new ideas into political debate.
Where breakaway factions might have previously decided to splinter into new parties, the onerous registration requirements now mean that incumbent parties are going to stay intact and generate ideas that are more reminiscent of design by committee. As Acemoglu & Robinson explain in Why Nations Fail, it’s a terrible idea to raise barriers to entry and to kill off challengers − it leads to corrupt dictatorship and ultimately, stagnation.
It’s no surprise that the government raising the barrier to entry for new parties is the same government who repeatedly undermines any progression towards an anti-corruption body. It’s the same party who has been tied up in repeated corruption scandals.
I’m against most controls over who can be in charge; and I find controls such as 1500-member requirements or even term limits to be disrespectful to voters' intelligence. If a leader has been around too long, voters can sense for themselves that things are becoming stagnant. So too if the candidate has dual citizenship or even if they’re not an Australian citizen at all − voters have the Internet − they should be trusted to judge for themselves whether a candidate’s ideas are sufficently Australian and whether the candidate can be trusted to look after Australia’s best interests. If they need to be explicitly prevented from accidentally voting for a foreigner, then how can they be trusted to vote at all?
Liberalism amounts to a hands-off government, which lets the market do its thing. When done as advertised, it very closely approximates the inclusive, democratic institutions advocated by Acemoglu & Robinson. The Liberal Party of Australia explains their beliefs as:
- [We believe in] the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
- [We belive in] government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
My main problem with the Liberal Party is that their policies don’t really play out as described by these mission statements. From my perspective, it’s better characterised by self-serving greed and a continuation of the existing power structures, keeping failed businesses alive and keeping donors as industry leaders. Even if they did more closely stick to their mission statement, a hands-off approach to regulation is not completely ideal − it’s suggested by Tim Dunlop that Prime Minister Morrison “[makes] decisions in line with his underlying belief that people should look after themselves and that, as much as possible, the private sector should do what we have traditionally understood governments to do in these circumstances, and that if “the market” fails to step in, then, oh well, individuals, families, communities will just have to take care of themselves.”
I agree that the market is inherently more democratic than any corporate state that the Labor Party would allegedly favour, but I do feel that the government should be guiding us through. Our society shouldn’t be a mob that gets out of control. Governments should be actively facilitating markets to spot gaps and to spot collusion. Governments can guide the flow of capital and can guide their citizens in making life decisions that will pay off. Governments have a different set of incentives to corporations − more than any other entity, it’s governments that have an interest in keeping citizens happy, healthy and productive. If they diverge in this alignment, then you can always vote in candidates who will put things back on track.
When markets have got out of control, it’s often been unions to get things back on track. In this respect, I greatly admire unions. I feel that people very rarely stand up for their rights; and that unions are an effective mechanism for mobilising the vulnerable. Unfortunately though, once a union is established, it never seems to die, even after it has already achieved its initial aims.
In this interview (at 34:50), Liz Schuler, the president of the AFL-CIO (a collection of unions) explains her opposition to the “Green New Deal”, on the grounds that “it shouldn’t be a choice between the environment and good-paying jobs”. It should be noted that Schuler has previously been associated with the Electrical Workers' Union; one of the constituents of the AFL-CIO − this fact becomes clearer when she further elaborates on the apparent trade-off between the environment and “good-paying” jobs:
There are so many ways we reduce our carbon footprint; and the emphasis has to be not just on electricity emissions − it has to be on transportation emissions; it has to be on how we manufacture; but also do it in a way that helps working people make that transition and make sure that the jobs we’re creating … are good, union jobs.
Schuler laments that the “renewable energy jobs” are jobs with “no benefits” (to Americans, this means no health insurance). I think that more than ever, we see here the problems in the American vocabulary, where “benefits” of a job don’t include such things as satisfaction; a sense of purpose; or even a sense of morality. You can be an active participant in burning the planet, but that’s fine, because the most comparable job for you personally, seems on one measure, like it wouldn’t be as good for you. 🤷🌏🔥
Sally McManus, Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, in an uninspiring fight for secure jobs
I discuss in Embraving Evil Technology how modern citizens have never in their whole lives shed a tear for the downfall of the horse and carriage industry when it was replaced by automobiles; and that we shouldn’t let selfishness amongst a few current coal workers get in the way of the greater good. These people blockading environmental progress have blood on their hands, whenever there is a flood; whenever there is a bushfire; whenever there is a hurricane.
Universal Basic Income
By having a more appealing safety net against unemployment, we can make a case that Universal Basic Income (a policy of the Fusion Party) would help to diminish the appeal of morally unjustifiable industries. What if people stopped working in telemarketing; what if they stopped mining coal; and what if more broadly, they stopped propagating any lies on behalf of their employers? UBI could create an enormous moral shift in our society.
I don’t feel that UBI is quite as forward-thinking as it could be though − I prefer the idea of zero-marginal-cost existence, which I’ve described previously, in relation to web3. Just like software companies approach a cost of $0 for each new user, governments should target a marginal cost of $0 for keeping a citizen fed, educated and motivated.
By reducing the cost of existence to zero, people wouldn’t actually need to apply for any sort of payment; so it’d stamp out the phenomenon of having to wait on hold for 3 hours while dealing with different government departments.
UBI comes with all sorts of complaints / issues like “what if they just take the money and sit on the couch?” or “what if they just take drugs?”. In the model of zero-marginal-cost existence, the government wouldn’t be undertaking any explicit efforts to subsidise that sort of lifestyle, so heroin would still be as unaffordable as ever; and we wouldn’t need paramilitaries turning up at people’s houses for drug use, because living a lifestyle that society deems “honourable” is so much cheaper and harmonious, for existing citizens and for newly assimilating immigrants.
By lowering the risk of losing your morally bankrupt job, then UBI or zero-marginal-cost existence also minimises the risk of starting your own business (a prospect that would otherwise be deemed too risky for most people).
The desire for job safety leads to large, bloated companies that are anathema to innovation. I recall angel investor David S. Rose making a great point, that it’s a perfect time for a startup in this day and age, because if you fail, you can only lose 100%. If your company fails, you’re not forced to dip further into your life savings; and you’re not going to be indebted for life, paying back millions of dollars to investors who knowingly took a gamble.
What’s holding back startups and innovation now (besides a shortage of good software engineers) is mainly cultural − Australia is more risk-averse than the US; and if someone’s startup fails to take over the world, then unlike Americans who might see it as an over-eager life learning; Australians seem more prone to view it as “serves them right for getting too carried away with themselves.” What did you expect to happen? You think you’re Mark Cuban or something?
It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once − Mark Cuban
In a large bureaucracy, if I take a risk and lose, I might get fired and the company will be characterised as chumps. If the bet works, the company will be praised, but I’m unlikely to have any equity at all in an Australian company, so the upside risk for me is maybe a $10k bonus and a pat on the back.
Price’s Law was discovered in the context of people publishing scientific papers, but it holds in other areas of creative output too. It finds that 50% of the output from a population is produced by the square root of the population. So as a company grows from 25 to 100 staff, the productive population has only grown from 5 to 10. When Facebook bought Instagram for $1b, Instagram only had 13 employees.
Even without any other reason, Price’s Law should be enough to highlight why it’s so beneficial for parties such as the Fusion Party to be encouraging tech startups and innovation. From The Innovator’s Dilemma to Elon Musk’s biography, we’ve seen that it’s startups, not incumbent companies, where society-changing innovation takes place.
Australia can be a beautiful, harmonious place to live, where new perspectives and multicultural experiences coexist. It can be a perfect place for world-changing startups to be born.
Besides UBI, the Fusion Party supports education for life, government funding for research and high-speed rail − all policies that would promote innovation and collaboration across Australia.
I feel that a good gauge for the Fusion Party’s real concern about the environment is the fact that they support reframing aging as a disease. They’re creating a future that they’d actually be living in, for a long time.
In terms of the environmental policy itself, there are specific ideas including ending the crazy practice of subsidising fossil fuels!
Australia has an obvious potential for exporting clean energy, as evidenced by the 3-GW Sun Cable to Singapore. The Fusion Party is targeting 800% renewable energy in Australia; and has expressed support for nuclear power.
Voters expressing strong concern for the environment have typically been targeted by The Greens, but my opinion is that there’s just not enough of a complete worldview being formed by the Greens, so their policies don’t end up being pragmatic or sensible. They say they want to get Australia involved in manufacturing again, in the same sentence where they acknowledge our achievements in cutting-edge technologies like “wi-fi [sic]”.
In 2020, Australia ranked 84th for economic complexity and was an outlier for still managing a high GDP. Apparently a return to manufacturing would help our situation.
In criticising the mainstream parties' bizarre understanding of emerging industries and their revenue potential, it’s worth focusing on a concrete example of how the Internet works. During the ridiculous debates around Google and Facebook paying just to link to news sites
, nobody ever mentioned the fact that if these news sites really didn’t like what Google was doing, they could just change their robots.txt page
to tell Google to stop indexing their content.
The fact that DuckDuckGo was immune from the rules hints at the proper solution to the fiasco − wherever Internet services have proliferated to the extent that they become critical parts of modern life, then it’s probably the case that the service should have been run as a public commons, without the misaligned incentives of the attention economy.
Inspiration for Scott Morrison?
Sure the Liberal party probably pursued the Google policy because former Treasurer Peter Costello is chairman for Nine Entertainment; and because the party is closely aligned with News Corp; but Labor ended up supporting the law too 🤷
The whole idea that Google gets much value out of people searching for news content presupposes that people are searching for the news article and not the news itself − the media company wrote an article, then the article created buzz and someone searched for it, bringing a user to Google.
The more sensible perspective though is that people only heard of actual, true events, then they searched Google and clicked a result near the top. If the media company was really so valuable, the user could’ve gone straight there. Either way, when the user searched on Google, it was in the media company’s interest for Google to index their site and for the result to be shown to a potential visitor. This is why the media company willingly let them index the site in the first place.
If showing a search result is giving away the story, how did it get classed as a relevant result in the first place? Wouldn’t the keywords already be telling half the story?
If we’re talking about a decent chunk of the article being displayed in a dedicated News app or news feed, that’s a different phenomenon to search results and was only ever lumped in together because the underlying agenda was presumably “Google and Facebook are rich; and our mates are losing money because they don’t understand the Internet. How can we fix this?”
The answer is for governments to become directly relevant to our online lives; spurring on development of digital commons and creating digital-first nationality: Nationality as a Service, as explained in Keeping Governments Relevant in the Web3 Era.
One country who was early to realise the connection between the Internet and sovereignty was Denmark, which appointed a tech ambassador in 2017. Unfortunately though, this proved far too late; and ambassador Casper Klynge was treated with contempt by the power-brokers of Silicon Valley − after finally organising a meeting with an executive, he was given a headquarters tour, then told that the executive didn’t have time for an actual meeting.
As Mr. Klynge was exiting the building, the executive called his mobile phone to ask him to wait. Mr. Klynge thought there had been a change of heart.
“When I got back to the conference room, he gave me a goody bag with a T-shirt and cap of the particular company,” he said. He said Danish officials “laughed about this incident a lot afterward, but it says a lot about the mind-set of some of the companies in Silicon Valley.” − The World’s First Ambassador to the Tech Industry, New York Times
Are Australian ambassadors similarly going to be laughed out of conference rooms? Maybe it’d be preferable to being shouted out 😕
Do you think he (Scott Morrison) lied (about the submarine deal)?
Especially under the sway of the Liberal Party, Australia’s foreign policy has been to pretty much disregard everyone else and really only cater to the United States. There seems to be an expectation by Australian leaders that this goodwill to the US would be returned, should Australia ever need military help.
The Liberals have recently gone beyond a mere show of support with the US; instead actively front-running the US in its gloabl arguments. When Australia demanded an investigation into the origins of COVID for instance, this made it the first nation to officially voice the proposal; and there was presumably the feeling that other nations would have our back, in this fight.
Although the United States did express agreement with the idea, China responded with massive trade restrictions for barley, then beef, then wine, wheat, wool, lobsters, sugar, copper, timber and grapes. Public boycotts were encouraged for coal, cotton and natural gas. So was Australia’s move worth it? China had been responsible for 39.4% of goods exports and 17.6% of services, between 2019 and 2020.
Even if Chinese scientists did concoct COVID-19 in a lab, before accidentally / deliberately leaking it, would the investigation have uncovered it? If the investigation did uncover it, then was that even necessary, for justice to be done? China suffered in the same magnitude as any other nation did, so they would presumably already be motivated to punish those responsible. Even the colleagues of these theoretical lab workers would be motivated to carry out justice − for all we know, those responsible could’ve encoutered poison in their coffee, in a plot with no involvement from the CIA, the KGB or Spectre.
Of course, carrying out jutice against an individual rather than the entire nation of China frames it as though China as a nation is not responsible − I feel that such a characterisation (“China is responsible”) would be unfair; and I feel that there is still insufficient acknowledgement that the disease could’ve arisen anywhere where humans interact with animals. In this article in the New York Times for instance, it’s discussed how 15% of deer have caught COVID-19 from humans, but of course, with the rampant speciesism in our world today, there’s no mention of whether the disease causes suffering for the deer; nor any possibility of humans making reparations to the deer, like China should apparently be making to various humans. The concern of the article is that the deer might act as hosts for mutations of COVID-19 that could spread back to humans.
Bill Gates has been warning of pandemics for years; and gave this talk in 2015 of how his foundation was preparing for it, yet as we all know, people were somehow surprised in 2019. Despite his good deeds, he got labelled as some sort of nefarious supervillain, with various conspiracy theories about wanting to implant everyone with microchips and track them with 5G internet. When good deeds get repaid like that, why wouldn’t billionaires spend their money on yachts and spaceships instead?
But back to the COVID origin investigation − for this disease that might as well have arisen anywhere in a culpably underprepared world, Australia was hoping to curry favour with the US and get access to nuclear submarines − a move that, as pointed out by President Macron, will make Australia entirely dependent on the US; and depleted in its own sovereignty.
Sure, the submarines would be useful in a military conflict; but we would still need the support of the US in a conflict; and this is a dangerous bet. The US has repeatedly shown itself to be an unreliable partner. When Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in 1991, it had assurances from the US and Great Britain, that they would not be left to stand alone, should they come under threat. Now they’re being invaded and the best that the US can offer is some sanctions − zero troops actually fighting in Ukraine, to protect it. Sure, such a move would risk nuclear war, but that doesn’t change the fact that a promise was made and the promise has been broken. The US sees Ukraine less as a sovereign nation that deserves to exist in its own right; and more as a battleground for other people’s wars:
We’re not perfect — we’re not even close — but we never have walked away. And Vladimir Putin was counting on being able to split up the United States.
Look, how would you feel if you saw crowds storm and break down the doors of the British Parliament, kill five cops, injure 145 — or the German Bundestag or the Italian Parliament? I think you’d wonder.
Well, that’s what the rest of the world saw. It’s not who we are. And now, we’re proving, under pressure, that we are not that country. We’re united.
And folks, that’s how I was able — we were able to make sure we kept Europe united and the free world united. A vote in the United Nations to condemn Putin — 141 countries voted to do that in the U.N. General Assembly.
Several abstained. China abstained — didn’t — didn’t vote with them but abstained. India abstained. Seven countries abstained — I think it was the number. They’re alone. And they did what they did — in my view, he did what he did because he thought he could split NATO, split Europe, and split the United States.
We’re going to demonstrate to the whole world no one can split this country. − Joe Biden framing an invasion of Ukraine as an attempt to split the US.
In keeping promises about the defence of Ukraine or anything else, let’s not forget that every time the US gets a new president, they want to refresh relations with Iran, China, North Korea and Russia. I think this occurrence is symptomatic of the US political structure − by appointing such a central figurehead who’s subjected to term limits, they are put in a paradoxical position of being encouraged to leave a legacy, while not having enough time to ensure that the legacy actually lasts. There’s also the fact that the members of US congress have massive conflicts of interest that coincidentally make them very wealthy.
Wealthiest Members of 116th Congress
Regardless of how closely we stay aligned with the US, it’s the position of the Fusion Party that Australia doesn’t overcommit to fighting the last war:
Modern conflicts are likely to be economic, subversive, space, or cyber related − so in addition to physical defence of the nation with armament, protections of our way of life need to be implemented.
- Develop strategic alternative supply chains for critical elements of the economy.
- Semiconductor and IT infrastructure
- Medicinal products and precursors
- Food and food processing
- Steel and plastics processing, machining, and fabrication capability
- Renew faith in democracy, institutions, and the media.
On the point of cyber attacks, it should be noted that insurance against cyber attacks is growing in cost exponentially − this would indicate that there’s a long memory; and that the cost of the next round of attacks is proportional to the the sum of all previous attacks, which seems like a pretty reasonable explanation. Either way, the result is that the cost will soon be prohibitively expensive, if any insurers continue to offer it at all. People need to finally learn how computers work; and they need to step up to the task of protecting themselves and those they’re connected to.
Any nation whose population fails to understand computing or computer security will risk being bankrupted overnight. There will inevitably be a flood of refugees; and it’s worth considering where Australians would go in such an event, considering how we’ve handled refugees so far.
In terms of Australia acting as a bad global citizen, the most clear-cut example for me is when the government cancelled the Australian citizeship of dual-nationality ISIS fighters. Punishing these fighters was now someone else’s problem.
There seems to be an over-eagerness to think of ourselves living on an isolated island, able to put our heads in the sand and ignore any problems happening elsewhere, as though they don’t affect us. A common rebuttal to concern for refugees is that refugees are “not our problem”.
I would say that such an outlook is setting a pretty low bar in terms of what it means to be a good global citizen. Imagine looking out your window and you see that your neighbour is sick. Oh that sucks. I hope they don’t die and make a smell, I was plannng on having a barbie on Saturday.
There are efforts that Australia can make that will benefit its own citizens, with collateral benefits to the rest of the world too. By relying on open-source code to run our institutions, it would be most apparent, but there are more traditional approaches too, like getting multiculturalism right and becoming a thought leader or even an evangelist in this area.
In this area, The Greens unfortunately fail to live up to their self-appointed position as a moral beacon of hope; and sound like a derivitive clone of the left-wing US:
The Greens plan [sic] will ensure everyone is treated fairly, by tackling racism and the danger it poses for people of colour.
Isn’t racism dangerous to white people too? The Greens want to fight fire with fire; ending racism while still labelling everyone by their skin colour. Even if this American approach works in the US, “white people” do not make up the majority of the world; and there must logically be an approach to resolving racism that isn’t predicated on lumping everyone into distinct binary groups, “white” and “non-white”. Fun fact: someone who’s labelled as “black” in the US might be labelled as “white” elsewhere.
Unlike the United States of America, France does not refer to their citizens based on their race, religion or origin. To us, there is no hyphenated identity, roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team, it seems you are denying their Frenchness. This, even in jest, legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness as the only definition of being French. − Gérard Araud (French envoy to the US), speaking about Trevor Noah’s remark that the 2018 World Cup victory by France was really a win for Africa
The Greens also come out with the utterly disconnected claim that they’re seeking “An end to all forms of discrimination.” − nations themselves are discriminatory. They have a monopoly on violence; and anyone who doesn’t conform is discriminated against. If I tell a kid that I don’t like what he’s doing; and my classmates help corrall him into the corner, then that’s bullying; but if the Australian government puts him into a prison cell, that’s not comparable, that’s the law. That’s just the way it is. That’s not bullying.
If you’re going to say something like “no discrimination”, then it’s completely meaningless unless you specify actual reasons for discrimination. I would say that besides the common examples of gender and religion, society should also stop being so speciesist − a point I discuss further in Ducklings Can’t Scale Stairs.
For comparison, the Fusion Party’s policy reads as much more pragmatic, from my perspective:
Justice starts with an even playing field, and requires belief by the community that people are treated equally under the law.
- Focus on outcomes and restorative justice, rather than punishment.
- Reduce recidivism by improving rehabilitation.
- Reduce actual and perceived discrimination.
A common talking point of anti-racist campaigners is that there is “structural racism”; and I agree with Acemoglu & Robinson (in regards to Why Nations Fail), that the form of our instutions, rules and press can create a vicious cycle of disadvantage breeding further disadvantage. I feel that the deep and lasting solutions to racism or any sort of unfairness lie less in short-lived advertising campaigns; and more in the sharing of best-practices for how to run microcosms of society.
If we can define our culture more definitively; and if we can run our institutions with open-source code as much as possible, then we can share our way of life with the world, in a form that’s conducive to feedback, whether that’s through code contributions or by philosophical debate.
Creating a harmonious way of life can be scalable. Imagine if some other nation wanted to join Australia − maybe Papua New Guinea would ask to rejoin. Such a thought experiment seems crazy, with the medieval mindset of running a country by physical force; but now with the immense flow of information and cultural influence, it’s totally plausible that just as we consume so much American media, maybe some other nation might want to be more Australian. If someone consumes American TV, eats American food and speaks in an American accent, the cultural values of the US inevitably seep in locally. Should we treat our waitstaff as beggars? Should we stigmatise the use of public busses and glorify shiny cars as status symbols?
Australians want a way of life; not just a physical spot on the earth. I think we have a duty to Australia’s existing residents and perhaps to dead, former Australians, to create a society that people are proud to be part of; a society that people would willingly choose to join, even if they lived elsewhere. To create such a society, in the face of global influences, this necessarily means that our own way of life must similarly be globally accessible − it must become a society that people can join from anywhere in the world. This isn’t the militarised imposition of “democracy”; this is a mindset of sharing and collaborating. By creating a nation that others would willingly like to join; by treating foreigners as potential collaborators and potential citizens, it’s easy to imagine it making us better global citizens.
When nations descend into chaos and its citizens abandon it, coming to eg Australia as refugees, then an obvious alternative is that the collapsed nation could’ve just transitioned to the Australian way of life; and the migration issue disappears.
With an increased move towards scalable, digital-first societies, we can offer a dignified and harmonious existence to anyone in the world, starting with Australia. This is my goal; and I feel that the Fusion Party is the best positioned for the daunting but inspiring tasks ahead.
Only moving forwards