Saturday, 19 November 2011

Thought for Saturday


"Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee."
Helen Keller
We live in a representative democracy, one in which the elected representatives act in the interests of those they represent, but not as their proxy representatives nor necessarily always according to their wishes.   Parliament has unlimited power over the country and authority over every matter, be it social, economic, political or even religious; and that unlimited power is sanctioned by the people come the time for a general election. Parliament, as we are often informed by our elected representatives, has 'sovereignty' and they sometimes talk about the sovereignty of the people. The latter, according to Wikipedia, is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power.

In the present system of democracy then, we have a contradiction; namely, if the people are sovereign - and in so being, the source of all political power - how the hell have they ended up living under what amounts to autocratic rule? 

Just asking................

5 comments:

Max Farquar said...

Thought you'd like to know that I have a major, and serious, piece coming up within next day or so which might be of interest .. 'A New Model For Democracy' ;-)

TomTom said...

Living in a country with a State Broadcasting Corporation funded by taxation as opposed to a State Church funded by voluntary donation; I am bemused to hear Ken Clarke on Jazz broadcast on BBC.

There cannot be too many countries where the Minister of Justice gets to pontificate on jazz on the State Broadcasting Corporation, though former regimes like Romania probably obliged.


I do recall Melvyn Bragg, an erudite soul without ministerial office being removed from Start The Week on Radio 4 because his peerage undid his impartiality.....although Lord Patten has no such difficulty.

What a bemusing island race we are.

PeterCharles said...

As said before, democracy has always been a sham in Britain. Prior to the first world war government and politics hardly impinged on the consciousness of the ordinary man. Things started to change in the inter-war years as the universal franchise came about but only really took off after world war two. At that time the political choice was Conservative, Labour or Liberal and the differences between them represented genuine alternatives and thus gave the illusion of 'real' democracy to the post war generation, us in the main.

The fifties were a time of hard work and recovery for most, the sixties and seventies a time of great social change and increasing affluence, something most people were supportive of and which together seemed to represent government responding to popular will, in essence the epitome of democracy in action. It was another illusion, of course, created by a post war/post European recovery technological and economic boom that dragged the government along with it. Any 'good' government did in this period was purely accidental, although that never stopped them claiming the credit.

From the eighties on it became obvious to most that we were not a 'democratic' country in any meaningful sense and many people began to complain of our 'lost' democracy, but it was never more than an illusion in the first place. If nothing else the EU has shown us in foot high letters and kaleidoscopic colour just how great an illusion it is.

IanPJ said...

In the present system of democracy then, we have a contradiction; namely, if the people are sovereign - and in so being, the source of all political power - how the hell have they ended up living under what amounts to autocratic rule?

In short, because the people have done absolutely nothing to stop the politicians TAKING the power. It is our own fault, but one that it is still not too late to redress.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

MF: That will be on my must-read list.....

TT: We are indeed......

PC: A rather neat summary of recent history!

IPJ: Which is something I have also said in the past.