A Lesson About Human Rulership
By “Awake!” correspondent in Australia
“IT CAN’T be happening here.” This was the stunned reaction of many Australians when they learned that their prime minister had been dismissed from office on November 11, 1975. The former official was leader of his party and had been elected to government in 1972 and again in 1974.
The dismissal was ordered by Governor-General Sir John Kerr, the representative of the queen of England in Australia. The governor-general immediately swore in the leader of the “opposition” as a temporary caretaker prime minister.
The governor-general’s action involved an unprecedented step. He proceeded on his own to dissolve the Australian Parliament, including both the Senate and the House of Representatives. This action made necessary a general election, which took place on December 13, 1975.
The campaigning that followed the dissolution of parliament was described as “the most unpleasant, dirty and bitter” in the history of Australia. Letter bombs were mailed to the governor-general, the caretaker prime minister and the premier of the State of Queensland. There were violent demonstrations, strikes and threats of industrial anarchy.
But why bring up something that happened last year? Can we learn anything of value from this incident? Yes; but first let us consider some of the things that led up to this crisis in Australia.
The Makings of a Deadlock
Since 1972 the now-dismissed administration had been scheduling large-scale social reforms. Many in the Senate, however, did not agree with these proposals. The House of Representatives twice passed twenty-one bills that both times met defeat in the Senate. According to the Melbourne Herald, the recurring theme of these bills was an “immense concentration of power of all kinds in Canberra [the Australian capital, where parliament is located] and the whittling away of State power and the power of individuals and companies.”
Moreover, certain members of the government had become involved in a series of deeds that many viewed as scandalous. This led to the resignation and dismissal of some senior ministers. Additionally, the government explored the prospect of borrowing a huge amount of foreign money without working through the Treasury Department or consulting the Loans Council that represents the states.
Eventually a deadlock developed between the Senate and the House of Representatives, which threatened to dry up all money supplies. To break the deadlock, the governor-general, who by tradition had always acted on the advice of the prime minister, proceeded without this advice and dismissed the government.
A Basic Defect in All Human Rule
It is true that there is nothing new about political upheavals. The grasping for money and power on the part of politicians is common. Yet, the unprecedented political crisis that developed in Australia illustrates once again an important truth about human rule. Consider:
A wise king who ‘set his heart to seek and explore wisdom in relation to everything that has been done under the heavens’ wrote under divine inspiration:
“If you see any oppression of the one of little means and the violent taking away of judgment and of righteousness in a jurisdictional district, do not be amazed over the affair, for one that is higher than the high one is watching, and there are those who are high above them.”—Eccl. 1:13; 5:8.
The point is that lesser officials are watched by higher officials, and these, in turn, by persons having still greater authority. Lowly individuals, who are at the bottom, so to speak, feel the brunt of pressure from rulers who seek personal advantage at the expense of their subjects.
Why does human rule result in widespread oppression? One reason is that frequently persons who gain power are corrupt, selfish and incompetent. On the other hand, generous, capable individuals are often shoved aside. The astute monarch quoted above remarks concerning this: “There exists something calamitous that I have seen under the sun, as when there is a mistake going forth on account of the one in power: Foolishness has been put in many high positions, but the rich ones themselves keep dwelling merely in a low condition. I have seen servants on horses but princes [those noble in their attitude and ways] walking on the earth just like servants.”—Eccl. 10: 5-7.
Does not your own experience verify these Scriptural observations about human rulership? The underlying problem is a basic defect in human nature that prevents any form of man’s rule from being lastingly beneficial. After committing a series of blunders that led to grave consequences, King David pointed to this underlying flaw, saying: “Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5) Inherited sinful tendencies incline all humans toward a measure of selfishness and greed. (Rom. 5:12) This becomes especially evident when persons gain power over others.
Rule ‘by the People’ No Different
Is this as true of modern democracies as of ancient rulerships? Consider as an illustration Australia’s system of government, which is a parliamentary democracy. Parliament here consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Each of the states provides ten members for the Senate. Members of the House of Representatives are chosen according to the population of each state.
The political party with the majority of elected members in the House of Representatives constitutes the government and nominates the prime minister. While the governor-general has vast powers as the representative of England’s monarch, usually he acts on the advice of ministers of state, who are chosen from members of parliament belonging to the party or coalition of parties commanding a majority in the House of Representatives.
Yet events of last December in Australia illustrate that even where an administration is largely of ‘the people’s choice,’ considerable turmoil can develop. Concerning the bombs mailed to officials during that election campaign, a prominent criminologist remarked: “The letter bombs were a stark reminder of the link between crime and politics.” Not only is this true here. “Corrupt politics” has become a household phrase in many countries. An article that appeared in the New York Times of June 10, 1976, said concerning the United States: “Public cynicism about politics is an old story in this country, but the feeling seems especially strong this year. Pollsters telephoning prospective voters in the primary states met this sort of reaction again and again: ‘Oh, don’t ask me about politicians. They’re all the same.’”
Though rulerships that include the people have brought some benefits, they too fall far short of adequately meeting mankind’s needs. Greedy self-interest turns up in group leadership as well as in that by individuals. Interesting in this regard are comments of British historian Alexander Tyler:
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess [gifts] from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy.”
A Truly Satisfying Administration
In what direction therefore should humans look for rulership that truly meets their needs? Did you know that the Scriptures foretell that God will soon remove the entire earthly political setup and replace it with rulership by his own heavenly Kingdom government?—Dan. 2:34, 44; 7:13, 14, 22, 27.
The king of that heavenly administration is no power-hungry politician. He is someone without human weaknesses, Jesus Christ. Concerning his rulership, we read: “He will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth.” (Isa. 11:3, 4) What a delightful experience it will be to live on earth under that godly system of rule!
But when and how will God’s kingdom remove the present governments and take over administration of all earth’s affairs? What must you do to qualify as a subject of that divine rule? The Bible gives satisfying answers to these questions. Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are strictly neutral as regards human politics, will be happy to help you to find the answers by conducting a free Bible study with you in your home or at any other convenient place.