Thursday, February 02, 2012

Democracy or mob rule?

Democracy is an overused word these days. That, in itself, would not be a bad thing if it were being used correctly, but the trouble is that it rarely is.

There is a growing assumption - perpetuated by the mass media - that democracy is simply the will of a large group of people expressed in some collective form or another. This is a simplistic and inaccurate view and one which I most definitely disagree with.

Worst of all these assumptions is the belief that if that will is expressed through some sort of election mechanism that is democracy.


If it were then no one could deny the democratic credentials of the Soviet Union which had universal suffrage and held frequent elections - but every one knows the Soviet Union was far from democratic.

This is because the pre-conditions that need to exist for democracy to exist simply were not there - and with out those pre-conditions there can be no democracy. Those pre-conditions are numerous and complicated (and difficult to explain), but the most obvious are the existence of a demos (a body of people with shared a shared history, culture, traditions and language), the existence of the institutions of democracy (rule of law, respect for authority and a transparent, fair justice system) and political pluralism (genuine choice of political ideology).

For what it's worth, it is my belief that these conditions no longer exist in our country.

Our demos has been undermined by mass immigration and the fact that non-British people can vote in our elections is an affront to the concept of democracy (they are not part of the British demos and therefore there participation in elections is anti-democratic).

The institutions of democracy have been corrupted beyond recognition. The rule of law barely exists anymore, there is no respect for authority (hardly surprising as this is actively discouraged) and our justice system is neither transparent or fair.

And there is no political pluralism. The main parties all subscribe to the progressive ideology with only minor detail differences and they combine to use the law and media to "lock out" any potential challenge to that hegemony to such an extent that other parties are unable to make any sort of headway in elections without spending an awful lot of money (which they do not have) or having the ear of some favourable media outlet (which very few get).

Such has been the corruption of the concept of democracy that the recent "Arab Spring" was often set in terms of a democratic movement even though there is no evidence that this was the case. What happened in Egypt, Libya and other North African and Middle Eastern countries was not democracy in action but pure and simple mass disobedience - or, as we used to call it, mob rule.

And the trouble with mob rule is that once people get a taste for it they tend to like it. People - regardless of their political persuasion or motivation - enjoy having power of some sort and the power provided by mob rule can be quite intoxicating.

So the recent tragic events in Egypt come as no surprise to me. Whether it is a football match, a political march or religious persecution - once the mob realises it has the power it will tend to use it.

But let us be clear about one other thing. Britain is no stranger to mob rule. Far from it - it was a commonplace event throughout the 20th century and continues today. Mob rule is used with and without governmental approval - the only real difference between us and what happened in Egypt is that we still retain the facade of the rule of law (but that is all it is) which does not exist in Egypt (or Libya or any of the other "Arab Spring" nations).

I hope - probably against all reason - that we might one day realise that democracy might flourish once more in this country because, if it does, it will mean that we have restored the pre-conditions necessary for democracy to exist.

Unfortunately, I do not expect it to happen in my lifetime.


Ari from Finland said...

I have been a member of the board of the Finnish Alliance. In one meeting I heard in my own ears, when chairman Heikki Tala told the board that Helsinki District Court was ready to ban our organization! An official had told this threat to our chairman in a meeting in the Ministry for Internal Affairs.

This happened before the New York Times interviewed our chairman and published an article about Finland on December 25, 2005. This article mentioned our organization.

As far as I have understood, president Halonen, Prime Minister Vanhanen and other leading politicians were behind this threat to ban the Finnish Alliance - without any reason!

A government's threat to ban a peaceful organization (because of its opinions) violates the principles of democracy.

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