Part IV: Even More of Those Bloody General Musings
xxHow odd it is that those who seem keenest to cite democracy as their justification most want to circumvent or even crush it.
xxThat those who cry freedom of speech loudest are those who most wish to suppress it.
xx(Even more oddly, it also seems to be those who are keenest to deny the Holocaust that wish to repeat it and do a ‘better’ job)
xxWhat of the educated elite, raised to rule (quis custodiet ipsos custodes … who will guard these guardians, indeed)? Once (in the UK anyway), they were ostensibly brought up to a sense of that great responsibility which comes with the great power, and the masses would have been horrified to think that any of their rulers had not been to an elite school and Oxbridge, things for which they are routinely pilloried now, as keeping them out of touch (of course the training they receive seems to have moved away from that of responsibility to that of achievement and acquisition, especially post Hayek and Thatcherism).
xxBut even a liberal, metropolitan elite can show a patronising and contemptuous attitude to the herd whose best interests they think they have at heart. They can mistake the effects of anti-racist, -sexist, -xenophobic policies for a genuine lessening of such attitudes, as they never sneak into a blue-collar pub or locker room and listen to the general conversation. They know that, for instance, immigrants bring more to the national purse than they take out and are essential to the economy, the health service and plumbing, but they think this means they don’t have to address the very personal issues of the ignorant blokes down the boozer, some of whom have been turned down for jobs because immigrants will do it cheaper. That’s not to say that they should do a UKIP and pander to the ill-informed, any more than they should simply (and more justifiably) point the finger at other aspects of the system. But they sure as hell shouldn’t ignore it, or, even worse, make scathing comments about England-flag-waving white van man on social media.
xxIt could be that the crisis in democracy both in Europe and the States comes about because people are reacting to the effects of having their ‘representatives’ sell them off to a plutocracy disguised as a democracy. As Abe also said, you can fool all the people some of the time …
xxAs I say, democracy is theorised on openness and information and based on lies, distortion and blinkers.
xxWhen I said online that I wasn’t keen on any democracy at all I was challenged to suggest a better idea. It’s a well-known problem for the anarchist that to define how society should be run is in itself an anti-anarchist thing. On the other hand suggesting ways that things might work, done cautiously, cannot be all bad, n’est ce pas? The theorising intellectual must have a rôle, as long as he or she knows it to be a subservient one.
xxIn such discussions, people often bring up Churchill’s statement: it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Then again he also said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” I would say that this can only be the fault of those we elect to oversee our education system; but with Mr Gradgrind back in charge, we could have a long wait.
xxMy correspondent then said he thought PR was far from shite (though he never answered the points about minority parties having inordinately disproportional influence), and that the Swiss system was far from perfect. I never said it wasn’t. All systems will inevitably be far from perfect; surely that’s no reason not to look for better ones. As they say, politics is the art of the possible. It’s about finding fudges that don’t actually make things worse. Even a referendum is non-democratic within days of being completed, as opinions might well have changed.
xxI am of the opinion that the early civilisations of the Indus and Mesopotamia regions could well have been run on lines that would now appear anarchic (ie without laws or rulers, notas in riotous and messy). Archeology shows no signs in their layout of a command hierarchy, yet the cities were highly sophisticated and, apparently, egalitarian.
xx(It is always amusing to see the contortions of archaeologists and documentary makers resistant to the possibility that co-operation may not need hierarchies and command structures.)
xxWhat intrigues is that current theories suggests this was brought down not by scarcity but by its very success in creating abundance. Food for thought and future blethering, no doubt.
xxI could have sworn that, when I were a lad, politics was about people trying to persuade me of their ideals and proposed policies, rather than finding out what the people want and trying to convince them that was what was on offer. Now all talk is about bowing to the will of the people, rather than engaging with and influencing that will by means of arguments, facts and reason. Indeed one leading Brexiteer claimed that the other side was being too fact based!
xxDemocracy boils down to a less painful way of saying My gang’s bigger than your gang. Avoiding some of the violence (which as Marx pointed out remains inherent in the system), it replaces the tyranny of a few with the tyranny of the many, a controlled ochlocracy. On the other hand just as my gang’s bigger can be countered with yes, but your gang has a few pointed sticks and my gang has loads of machine guns, it could also be answered with my gang’s smarter and yours is thick as pigshit.
xxOn the latter basis a representative system lets each gang choose its intellectual champions, in the forlorn hope that this will ameliorate the effects of an undereducated lumpen proletariat who might otherwise choose, say, some permatanned billionaire sociopath with a platform of random ranting. Plato said these appeals to base passions and blind prejudices (cf Trump, UKIP) would be the inevitable result of a ‘democratic’ system. To get the majority on your side, you keep them ignorant, and keep them docile, with just enough bread (made by Paul Hollywood) and circuses (presided over by Simon Cowell).
xxOne of my ‘aphorisms’ is that the worst insult an artist can pay the public is to give them what they want. Perhaps this is also the most oppressive thing a government can do. [Deep, man!]