After expiating on democracy at some length in the distant past (Democratic Blisters, April 2017), and returning to it from time to time, your tiresome correspondent could be forgiven for thinking the topic had been done to death.
Back then I said that it seems ‘democratic’ is now defined as ‘the result I wanted’, and that is thrown into strong relief by the conflicting claims that the Prime Minister’s proroguery was an affront to or a defence of democracy. If only a sensible discussion could be had on the meaning of the bloody term, in the context of both the UK constitution and the wider world too.
Fat chance, but let’s fling another two-penn’orth in.
Sadly, the only people pushing for this are the alt-right likes of Banks and Farage, who are trying to sell the idea of a ‘direct democracy’ for the interweb age, like that promulgated in Italy by the predominantly leftist Five Star Movement. And given the achievements of Cummings and other manipulative psephologists in using big data and targeted bullshit to sway votes, this does not bring as much joy to the present writer, with his muted fondness for the Swiss system, as you might think.
It takes a long time, maybe even a few centuries of participatory democracy, for the people to learn to be less easily swayed by simplistic emotive appeals; and also an insistence that far clearer majorities than a few percent are needed to effect serious change.
This was triggered by a recent discussion on twitter with a leave supporter.
By the way, I have stopped referring to people as Leavers and Remainers, as if they were different species; it plays into the hands of the baddies, along with the mantra that ‘there’s no point arguing with them’ — people are people who currently take one view or the other and might — yes, your correspondent included — one day change their minds.
It was in trying to discuss this option and urging a tweeter to at least reconsider driving the bus over a cliff, when his intransigence led him to avoid all requests for his actual reasons for leaving and constantly go on about the fact that Leave ‘won’ the referendum. And when I said that democracy had to include discussion and the right to reconsider, he counted with ‘Democracy is about winning’ and, presumably, dropped the metaphorical mic.
And in a form of low-grade esprit d’escalier, it occurred to me that I should have at leased fired a parting (though not Parthian) shot to the effect that winning by tiny margins, or, more to the point in this case, by false majorities, may take the battle, but bodes ill for the war.
I’m the first to agree that if there was the clear majority in 2016 for remaining that all polls suggested (and most participants assumed), it’s the folks who were fooled into staying home thinking remain was a shoo-in who deserve a good slapping. But if, as almost every poll since then has said, the clear (but too small for comfort) majority has remained remainer, the ‘simply winning’ attitude may be storing up a lot of grief for the exultant. If leaving the EU causes a fraction of the issues for the UK supplies and economy that it could, how long will those ‘winners’ hold even a sizeable minority of the public under their sway, however stridently their media chums blame those bastards across the Channel?
Sadly, I do realise that the civil unrest that could follow will play into the hands of the nasties, those who openly admit they wish to smash the system, but maybe those thugs who turn out for them are nowhere near sufficient to carry the day. As far as we know, despite all the parallels with Thirties Germany, there isn’t an organised Sturmabteilung lurking in the wings.
Is there? Either way, it’s a rather odd definition of ‘winning’. But, ultimately, truly democratic.