Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Ballot Box

In the mindless pursuit of democracy, those chanting "one man one vote" have become about as rational as any religious zealot; and it's a brave soul indeed that suggests that democracy has become just as badly abused and misused as religion. Yet the evidence of the systemic inoperability of the concept is all around: there are numerous voting systems within "democracy", usually manipulated by the party in power to ensure that it stays in power.

The democracy zealot is now just as immune to reason and evidence as the religious zealot. Worse, if you are George W Bush, and his obedient servant, Yo Blair, democracy and religion are one and the same crusade. Democracy advocates will justify the many sacrifices made in world and other wars in its name; much the same sacrifices were made in the name of religion during the Dark Ages.

The cynical abuse of "democracy" is all around. The furor surrounding the dubious abuse of patronage and allegations of cash for peerages comes under the familiar heading of "no surprises there". Indeed, all political parties do it and have done it for ages, so all the purple bluster and steam seems unlikely to stir an unsurprised nation to arms; but let's extract the principle "of purchased influence" and place it in a proper democratic context.

Unless the theory of marketing and advertising is complete nonsense, democracy, crudely means a system of government where money buys influence. Why else would the US be so keen to impose it?

Dangerously, for the cosy beneficiaries of the status-quo in that most undemocratic of lands where minority rule is imposed every 5 years (the UK), "genuine democracy" where the people are allowed to decide on all important issues, has become perfectly possible now that modern technology connects the entire population to an instant voting mechanism. Moreover, the proposed £5bn worth identity card effort at least ought to ensure that a secure means of proof of identity was in the hands of every subject.

But who should be permitted to vote? In the present system of delegated voting authority, there is a very clear and brutal system that dictates just how far democracy reaches. And the answer is just 316 egomaniacs who are sufficiently self-obsessed and self-seeking to seek election to the House of Commons.

The moment that Commons majority is reached, this oligarchy can conveniently forget the 60-odd million voters for whom life is a daily struggle for survival in the face of increasingly tedious and questionable impositions. The magical majority of 316 people, mainly drawn from the ranks of lawyers, teachers, lecturers, trade union activists and an increasing number of "professional politicians" who have never held a proper job of any sort in their misbegotten lives, can do what they bloody well like. And as President Blair has shown on many occasions, he bloody well did; entirely ignoring parliament and acting like a dictator.

So then, please remind me, just why is universal suffrage deemed to be such a great idea? Adolf Hitler was elected democratically, as was Robert Mugabe, George Bush (just) and Tony Blair (overwhelmingly). This suggests that democracy might not be all that it's cracked to be. In fact, it suggests that democracy is a dreadful way to elect an effective government.

One US political commentator once observed:

"Every 4 years, the US public generally gets to make a choice between a crook or a fool. If they have any sense, they vote for the crook."


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