Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Democracy - a cut flower

I think we are not a democracy, but a competing selection of complex oligarchies with a mechanism for periodic bloodless overthrow.

I put the above comment about the British system on the ever-elegant Angels in Marble. Is it too cynical?

What does democracy mean here? What should it be like?

Is democracy the best system, or should we turn to authoritarianism, which seems to be working for the Russians and Chinese, as an increasing number of opinion-formers seem to be suggesting?

Is that happening anyway? Are the people watching the bottom rung of the ladder of power rise out of reach?

14 comments:

Nick Drew said...

If you're after a description of how things are, I like the concept of the will-to-dominate-a-niche (& then a load of co-existing / sometimes-clashing niches) which underpins this rather good book.

& it's consistent with your competing selection of complex oligarchies

Flirtation with the 'benefits' of authoritarian rule characterised the 1930's, didn't it ? Many mainstream politicians in the UK and US wondered whether Herr Hitler et al didn't have a point after all ...

TBRRob said...

Yes they are, but that doesn't mean we should let them do it.

SACKERSON said...

TBRRob: Welcome; nice to hear from a lover of liberty.

Nick: Quite. We're starting to hear the same "efficiency" talk again. In my view, democracy, like town/road/airfield planning reviews, exists precisely in order to add delay and complication, as side consequences of consideration for the less powerful.

Ryan said...

I think the problem we have here in the UK is that government messes with "the natural order of things" but at the same time is far too liberal with the feckless and downright evil.

In a system where the "natural order of things" governs human activity, people like Ian Huntley get beaten to death by the family of the murdered girls, those that don't contribute to their own income starve to death and top notch countries have a perfect right to subjugate pointless third world countries. Up until the 1950s UK government simply considered that it should apply the laws of the natural order of things with brutal efficiency, but after the war some of those things seemed a little, well Nazi, so we swung wildly against it. But that was a mistake. As a result we are knee deep in the feckless, brutal murderers get out of gaol after a few years and many former British colonies are now run by mad psycopaths. Unfortunately the "escalating commitment to a particular failed course of action" traps us on the same course. After all, how can you change things?

Lets say you were very keen to bring back hanging. Do you join a no-hoper political party like the BNP, that believes in hanging? Or do you join the Tory party? Currently the Tory party doesn't believe in hanging. If you went to the Tory Party claiming you wanted to be a "hang'em high" MP you wouldn't get very far. Wouldn't fit in, you see. And the further you go up the Tory party ladder, the more you are forced to conform. You must be steeped in the history of the Tory party. You must fit in. You must connect with all those that are already leading members of the party, who are already chosen because they fit in. If you want to be a Tory PM you must be a regular church goer, with no known experimentation with recreational drugs, no sexual adventures with prostitutes and no run-ins with the police. That counts me out on three of those (I go to church quite a lot to pray for forgiveness for my other sins. Its enough for God but not enough for the Daily Mail it seems).

I'd vote for the BNP if there was anyone brave enough to stand for them in my area. Its not that I like the BNP, and I hate Nick Griffin, its just that its time to give the other group-think parties a big fat poke in the eye. Their manifesto is just fine by me. The more they get vilified by the sheeple of the group-think media and other political parties, the more I like them. Currently, voting is like turning up at a railway station, wishing to go to London but seeing only trains to Edinburgh and deciding to go to Edinburgh because you haven't anything better to do.

The only way things are going to change is to shake things up a lot. War seems a rather extreme way to do it. Voting for an extreme party might just do it. Then, there's the pitchforks....

SACKERSON said...

A plausible analysis of why political orthodoxy gets entrenched, Ryan, but isn't the poke 'em vote how the Nazis got in? The Establishment thought they could prune off the wilder edges of Nazism once they'd allowed Hitler in. Perhaps only a major disaster can save us, if that isn't self-contradictory.

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

I put the above comment about the British system on the ever-elegant Angels in Marble. Is it too cynical?

Not in the least, Sackers - most apt.

SACKERSON said...

Good to hear from you, James.

Ryan said...

Well Sackers, I'm not that convinced that even Nick Griffin would send 6million Jews to the gas chambers. He might expel a few Muslims though. When you live on an island, expulsions are rather easier than mass murder. And the French are always "encouraging" Algerians to return to Algeria and we don't think of them as bad people (of course, the Sarkozy has to keep one eye on M. LePenn). Fact is the current government has ACTUALLY killed about 250,000 people - they just haven't left the bodies on our doorstep so we don't kick up too much of a fuss. Maybe you're right - NuLabour are only 4% as bad as Hitler (but give them time...)

So on balance I don't think that even if the BNP DID manage to gain power that they would be as bad as their antagonists portray them, and certainly no worse than the current incumbents, who really DO have blood on their hands. The BNP are vilified by people who are palpably WORSE! If anybody has any REAL evidence that the BNP are planning some kind of moral outrage then I'd like to hear it. Comparing the BNP to the Nazis is a bit lazy, and falling into the trap of letting the MSM set the agenda, and terms of engagement.

SACKERSON said...

Well, they're not a serious political threat at the moment and I think unlikely ever to become so. But it's worth remembering that the Nazis' original plan was to expel the Jews, not commit genocide. I suppose it might be argued that had we not declared war, that's what they would have done, I don't know. You never know what these unsavoury mogwais will do when they become gremlins.

I think the race issue is a red herring, and in any case highly distasteful - I speak as the son of a British soldier and an East Prussian wartime refugee, both very much British patriots and also very much against prejudice and fanaticism. I think the real issues are about culture and social cohesion, particularly as the economy faces greater strains owing to globalization, demographics, the irresistible temptations of fiat currency, and crumbling standards in education. We are more under threat from the Left's airbrushing-out of our history, religion and literature, than from lax immigration controls. Schools today bear very little resemblance to when I began to teach in the mid-70s, and even then there were serious concerns about slipping standards. There has indeed been a revolution.

Having said that, we do need to reassess who we allow into the country, bearing in mind long-term economic effects. The stats and arguments against the supposed benefits of importing lo-cost labour are beginning to surface in the MSM. The BNP could well mess-up adequate reconsideration, just as Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech did decades ago.

We're caught between nutters of the Left and far Right. All very Steeler's Wheel, don't you think?

Ryan said...

I don't see these things that way at all. Firstly, the Nazis would have been democratically elected - they didn't actually need to sieze power. They were actually very popular, and they were about more than just anti-semitism. If you don't appreciate that, you won't understand why it was they lasted in Germany for so many years. The Daily Mail would have loved them, just as the average Daily Mail reader would love the complete BNP manifesto.

There was a lot of anger in Germany after WWI. There was chaos on the streets, high crime and so on. There is a lot of anger right here in the UK right now. Read some of the comments on CiF or on the Telegraph. Ordinary people, not blog commenters, write those comments. They are viciously angry right now. All that anger has to come out somewhere. If we keep voting for parties that are fundamentalyl unable in themselves to resolve the situations that have led up to that anger, the anger will get rapidly worse. What if the Tory party doesn't deliver what Telegraph readers and Daily Mail readers want? There could be a bloodbath. People talk about "political tipping points" and they also talk about "economic super-cycles". I think we could be at the tipping point in a political super-cycle.

As far the particular situation of mass immigration, if we don't do something about the issues we have through legal, moral means, it is going to become explosive. If you don't believe me, watch what is happening to the Christian community in their response to Islam. We have just had an attack on a Muslim building in Cornwall where a crucifix was painted on the wall. Christians accuse the Archbishop of being a dhimmi. Christian fundamentalists are campaigning in Muslim areas. Basically, Christian groups are organising themselves slowly to respond to Muslim fundamentalism. Give it 30 years and we will be in a civil war situation. If events transpire as they did in Ulster, it will last 30 years and 200,000 people will die. Taking a firm grip now might actually save lives.

All terribly apocalyptic, but I firmly believe that's where we are, and not for the first time either...

SACKERSON said...

I think we are in agreement that it's cultural factors that matter in this context, not racial ones. And that these have to be addressed.

The Nazis seized power TECHNICALLY democratically, but I understand that this was achieved at least partly by intimidation of other representatives. They were thugs. My mother remembered how they took over at first in East Prussia - the worst types (drunks, wastrels, creeps) were the ones who joined the Party for a bit of recognition, power and status - and much enjoyed the sudden reversal of positions. Then the teachers joined, because it was bad for their careers not to (like Labour in London borough LEAs in the 70s); then the teachers encouraged children to join. My mother didn't, because her father regarded Nazis as lowlife; the teachers browbeat her and the children tried to bully her physically. Fortunately, she was strong and stubborn.

Political negligence and complacency are at the heart of the problem. We have to address the cultural issues properly, in order to keep BNP types out.

Ryan said...

I don't think political negligence is the problem. We have political parties that effectively formed their opinions during the post-war consensus and are not capable of renewing themselves easily. That post-war consensus was formed with the best of intentions. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions....

I firmly believed that when Blair became leader of the Labour Party, he would be the final nail in the coffin for Labour. I foresaw a Labour Party full of Tory-lite MPS but funded by left-wing unions. Such a divided party can surely have no future.

Currently the Labour Party is losing even its core supporters, and it is still two years away from an election with recession predicted for the whole journey. By 2010 the Labour party could find itself the third party in UK politics. In any case it is broke, and with no chance of power for a long time it is unlikely to receive funding from wealthy businessmen. The unions will take full advantage of this, and the Blairites will be the ones to suffer. Internecine warfare in the Labour Party will probably finish it off, in my opinion. Meanwhile, its cheerleaders in the media will find themselves out of work, as the Tories find a sudden urgency in the break up and privatisation of the BBC to fill government coffers. Government recruitment advertising normally headed for the Guardian, will end up between the sheets of the Telegraph.

The Tories will be elected to power in 2010 with a massive majority. With no realistic opposition they will be in power for a long time. Political wannabees looking for what will come after Cameron will see Labour as no-hopers and will swell the ranks of the Lib-Dems. But will a Tory party with real power for 20 years be enough to placate the growing anger? Not as it stands, I would say. Recently the Tory party found itself in trouble with its own grass-roots supporters for forcing selection of pro-EU MEP candidates. The grassroots wanted anti-EU candidates, but the ruling elite obviously forced the issue in favour of the EU. This cannot go on. People either dont care that much about the EU, or they hate it. Those that hate the EU have swelled the ranks of the Tory party in recent years. I don't think they will stand for any more EU interference. Cameron's greatest concern will be a revolt from his own grassroots and the backbenchers, over the EU, immigration, Islam, crime, capital punishment and a host of other issues.

One way or another, the next 10 to 20 years will see a political revolution take hold in the UK. The dam built by the liberal-left is bursting. Socialism will be killed off. The internet is allowing the working class and middle class to unite their views and challenge the views of the ruling elite. History is going to be made in front of our eyes. It will be exciting, but it could be dangerous too.

SACKERSON said...

An interesting and detailed analysis, Ryan, and thanks for the effort. if, as you predict, we get a Tory landslide (though some say that may not transpire), then the Tory leadership will be empowered to pursue whatever real agenda it has, and ignore its backbenchers for a few years. Could we get some policy surprises?

But your point about a growing gulf between the people and the political class as a whole, is one that I've seen raised a number of times recently and it resonates with me. However, even if the people are restless, modern technology and the erosion of civil liberties could well see us on to some form of "1984"-style governance.

Ryan said...

Yes, I see that too. Lets face it, the current government's focus on the Civil Contigencies Act and the Terrorism Act looks to be focussed on the innocent with a view to banging them up for a long time. 42 day detention is used to place people under arrest that are apparently innocent, because if they are apparently guilty of some crime, that is enough to charge them and you don't need 42 day detention. CCTV cameras don't spy on the guilty - the guilty don't commit their crimes in plain view. CCTV spys on those that consider themselves innocent. ID cards and databases control all the people, not just the people that need to be controlled. All these mechanisms are designed to protect the "state" as it is. They are designed to maintain the status quo. We can assume these mechanisms were put in place because the threat to the status quo has become obvious. The ruling elites are becoming scared of what we might do. Like I said, these are exciting times, but dangerous too.