Once again John Souter has offered me one of his essays. Could I say no? Of course not. His insight into life and political life touches a nerve. We've decided to publish it in two parts as it's rather lengthy. Hopefully that will give you time to ponder and perhaps add to the discussion in comments. Enjoy.
Do we have a sense of democracy?
Part 2 will be published this evening
Well do we?
As we enter the year of 2011, whether we regard it as another year of a spiritual Lord, or the Lords of Governance, or the Lords of Capitalism do we as British citizens have any sense that we are part of any meaningful democratic process?
I ask because I don’t think we have. I think for the last thirty years at least, and probably for the larger part of the 20th century we have been weaned and cajoled into accepting authorities that have no interest in our welfare whatsoever.
I ask because, the I that I am by chance of birth and commonalty feel we have exchanged the divine right of Kings (who at least were subject to the cemetery) to the divine rights of parliaments which, by dint of distortion, manipulation and obfuscation suffer no such interruption to their stewardship of a nation.
I ask because this game we call politics and its tag teams of parties that play in the pit of parliaments seems to have demeaned democracy to a title without substance or meaning except as a ploy to protect and enhance the freedoms and arrogance of the State.
I ask because, while, by either nature or nurture, I have a sense of morality, of right and wrong, of good and evil, of beauty or ugliness, of joy or misery, love or indifference, fear or contentment, I no longer have any sense whatsoever – even with the fig leaf of voting - that I’m taking part in any meaningful democratic process. That all I have done is add my mark to a statistical convention that will change the wallpaper from the mired grime of the old and replace it with a wash of hope triumphing over experience.
I ask because, while the progress of technology has accelerated to a phenomenal pace in the last hundred years. To where, in the medical science world alone, the chemical and neurological causes and effects of our minds are beginning to be understood and the biology of its diseases countered or at least mitigated, these do not reflect in a more content or progressive social society but in fact have produced a more fragmented and confused social paradigm. Where society has no form and, by not having form has lost all sense of purpose.
To where, due the same technological progress, the drudgery of the industrial revolution has been largely eliminated by machines and the micro chip, releasing millions of souls from the drudgery and restrictions of repetitive labour, that this freedom of opportunity and potential should be suppressed by being expressed as a problem. And I ask, where in these industries, which have gone from employing tens to the odd thousand, have the savings on the wages of these tens of thousands gone; and whether, in any way, these ‘savings’ have contributed to the benefit of society or aggravated its woes.
Surely a fair enough question when you consider within a couple of decades the savings were not recognised as enough to stop the same industries from moving to the emerging world in order to save on the little labour they still had to employ, while paradoxically expecting to retain the rights to a market in the country they’ve packed up from and left. So now, just as the cusp of Nano technology and engineering is about to thrust itself on to the scene, we have depleted the engineering if not the scientific ability to develop the products in exchange for the bolt-on status of a subsidiary. Where, for any society, does the word progress feature in this.
So, moving on, while trying to constantly remind myself the object of this exercise is to hunt for reasons behind my deficiencies of having any conscious form of democracy, I reach the era of 2008 and, having typed the year feel the dendrites of my brain shrinking into an induced coma.
And can you blame it when you consider all the gazillions of words that have been used trying to explain, excuse or disguise such a stupidly irrational value that, hopefully, history will be allowed to allocate to the same bin, but with less excuse of ignorance in mitigation, as that of the Earth being flat. A hope which, given the subsequent response to this irrational idiocy, is to protect it and its proponents from the effects and absolve it and them from all responsibility and consequence by, in fact, bolstering the idiocy of the few at the expense of an already haemorrhaged and anaemic many in order for the same irrational idiocy to be allowed to continue and prosper.
Perhaps my dendrites are not shutting down to induce a coma, they’re in fact shutting down to prevent an impulse devoid of logic or rationale from causing a short and fusing into a false circuit. In fact the combination of the idiotic, irrational and valueless event and the equally idiotic, irrational, etcetera response by the politicos to it, have provided an answer to my dilemmas posed in the questions and on the status of our democracy.
We have no democracy and by its lack, logic states we can have no real or tangible sense of being part of one. Though, that lack tends to aggravate rather than dissipate our imagining of what life in a true and competent democracy would be like.
In truth, once the banner waving and celebrations accompanying the inceptions of Democracy are over, the practices adopted and established are, whether by incompetence, design, or expediency, the democratic principles are demoted to its lowest uncommon denominator, to that of its executive.
From Webster’s Dictionary . “Democracy: from the Greek demos- people; krateein – rule.
A theory of government which, in its purist form, holds that the state should be controlled by all the people, each sharing equally in priviliges, duties, and responsibilities and each participating in person in the government.
In practice. Control is vested in elective officers as representatives who may be upheld or removed by the people.”
So it would seem, dealing with the theory model, our modern models of democracy short changes us on the privileges, allow us to be excused on the duties, but demand we shoulder all of the burden of responsibilities, and by the distortion of facts and truths skews our ability to participate in any meaningful manner.
As to practice. Control is not vested in elective officers or representatives, who may well come and go by a decision of the people. Control is in fact vested in an abstract body called parliament, an arm of the State, whose administrators control by their knowledge and experience the acts, omissions and positions of the Cabinet, and who are not at the mercy of public scrutiny or removal.
The excuse of duty we’re allowed is the right not to vote. A right that is adopted by around 40% of the electorate in modern times; which removes most of the disillusioned, disenfranchised, or plain not bothered, from the system. But then allows a distorted minority value to claim the right of government. In short it’s an excuse allowed, not to underline the freedom of the citizen, but to falsely enhance and distort the legitimacy of the established authority, the inherent bias of the system and disguise its controls.
This is a right I would like to see removed from the process, by voting being made compulsory. For such a large proportion to choose not to vote, not only makes a farce of the whole democratic process, it removes the right of those who do to claim their share of the privileges. Though I have to admit to an almost manic frustration to discover the shape and form these so called ‘privileges’ might take under a sovereign parliament.
However the main point I would raise with regard to this glaring anomaly is; if the Westminster and Whitehall Cabals were truly committed to the integrity of the democratic process they would have taken measures by now to minimise the effect of such a fault. The fact they haven’t is a damning indictment of their true lack of commitment to the wellbeing and welfare of the citizens they supposedly serve.
At this juncture I intended to include Webster’s definition of politics; mainly to see how well it snuggled into the definition of democracy in either theory or practice. Only to find I was spoiled for choice, none of which were devoid of negatives.
Under politician however there was an interesting diversity identified to nations.
The first definition was general: “One engaged in politics, especially professionally.
The US version: “One who engages in politics for personal or partisan aims rather than for reasons of principle; also, a political schemer or opportunist.” Well, that explains a lot of recent American policies.
The Brit version: “One skilled in the science of government or politics; a statesman.” Very succinct, and a fine example of the ability of British politicians (Raj) to obscure fact by hubris and the science of rhetoric; which to my way of thinking is the only claim politics can make to the disciplines’ of science.
The French version: “The white eyed vireo: so called because it feathers its nest with bits of newspaper or whatever comes easily.” Spot on; not only does it describe politicians to a T, it also captures the paucity of responsible reporting in favour of bias by the MSM as well. Perhaps we need a revolution in order to expunge a lexicon designed to protect the establishment multiplicity to one that calls a spade exactly what it is and the substance on it as the merde it smells like.
It’s all however a bit obtuse, so I’ll give you my version.
Part 2 will be published this evening