WORLD VIEW: Democracys chronic pains

Brexit lies

 
252Views 8Comments Posted 18/12/2018

By Jonathan Power

In the Western world there is a constant debate about democracy. In the US the Democrats charge quite correctly that the House’s constituencies are gerrymandered against them. Then there’s the insoluble issue of the Senate’s anti-democratic bias where its numbers are tilted against the Democrats by the fact that rural, less populated, states which tend to be conservative, elect two senators, just as do the Democratic-inclined, heavily populated, states.

In Britain, the country is riven by the Brexit debate. A referendum was held two and a half years ago when voters were given the choice of “Remain” or “Leave”. The “Leavers” won by a small margin and the country has been in political turmoil ever since. Now with Prime Minister Theresa May’s exit plans on the rocks the debate has become vitriolic. There are calls for a new referendum to reverse the previous vote. It’s likely to happen since Mrs May has been checkmated by the European Union. The Remainers will probably win.

In Hungary, the prime minister has pushed aside democracy to take more control of the press and the judiciary, despite threats, so far empty ones, from the rest of the EU to seriously punish its government.

In France, demonstrators, some violent, have hit the streets, protesting the government’s policies that seem to favor the well to do. In fact the poorer have also been helped. But is it a responsible protest when the mass of non-violent demonstrators know that their action has attracted young hooligans who use violence- burning cars, ransacking shops and fighting the police with cobblestones?

[caption id="attachment_92128" align="alignleft" width="300"] Robespierre's road to democracy[/caption]

Democracy, considered a virtue, has always had its bad associates- Hitler and Robespierre for starters.

Democracy is in trouble, according to a new, incisive and broad ranging book, “Setting T he People Free- The Story Of Democracy”, by Cambridge professor, John Dunn.  What’s excluded from his magisterial text isn’t worth knowing. His book gives the reader everything they need to know.

As Dunn writes, democracy has lost its clarity. It’s not yet a sinking ship but it certainly has hit an iceberg.

“Representative democracy today”, he says  “works far better as a mechanism for rejection than it can as a way of choosing together what course to follow for any length of time”.

Dunn singles out climate change. Yes, there’s a great amount of lip service to taking drastic action but, as in France, when fuel taxes were raised in order to restrict more CO2 emissions, there are massive demonstrations against it. A democratically elected government was compelled to retreat.

[caption id="attachment_91090" align="alignright" width="300"] Trump . climate change denier[/caption]

In the US Republican voters support President Donald Trump’s policy of denial although the denials came from a time well before Trump. Dunn says that in the face of such immense challenges the record of Western democracies “has been at best uneven and at worst abominable.” Our democracies, he concludes, exist in “muted form”.  At the end of his book he blames us the voters for tolerating bad practices.

Plato, who opposed the other Greek savants, his teacher, Socrates, and his pupil, Aristotle, denounced democracy. He saw it as “a presumptuous and grossly ugly idea”.  He blamed the killing of Socrates on the waywardness of democratic governance.

This and other historical examples leads Dunn to argue that with democracy “it’s overwhelmingly probable that many particular outcomes will turn out to be flagrantly unjust.  The idea of justice and the idea of democracy fit very precariously together”. Worse still, “It’s often sharply at odds with the requirements for the fluent operation of a capitalist economy”.

In post-Soviet Russia much of the West thought democracy would come first and capitalism second. It did for a while but now under President Vladimir Putin the order has been largely reversed.

Dunn goes on to say provocatively that, “No one could readily mistake democracy for a solution to the Riddle of History”.

Nevertheless, “In its simple and unpretentious way, it has by now established a clear claim to meet a global need better than any of its competitors. It has a unique status, fusing timeliness and well-considered modesty with a claim to something very close to indispensability”.

Having said this we are living in a disenchanted and demoralized world. Our prime purpose isn’t democracy, fighting for human rights, against climate change or for compassion towards the poor. Our lives appear to be organized around the struggle to maximize personal income.

One of both the ingredients and the result of this is to make us shortsighted and to have little sense of history. In the American case, Trump plays on the sheer ignorance of a large section of the electorate. In Britain, Nigel Farge and his United Kingdom Independence Party and friends in the Conservative Party told outright lies, now admitted, to the voters in order to win the Brexit referendum.

We sigh and take comfort from what Churchill said: “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

 



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Comments 8

user
Andre

Sounds to me like all you yellow hIred buffoon lovers are finally accepting what I have said all along!! 45 is signalling the beginning of the end of the experiment that is america. Capitalism was never meant to better the lives of all people. By its very nature, elitism and extreme inequality is always the ultimate end. The irony though is that even though you ultra conservatives are probably not among the elite that you decry so vehemently, you fight vigourously against any semblance of socialism that might lessen some of the sufferring being experienced by so many in america just like you. Sort of " cutting off you nose to spite your face". The end of 45, coming real soon, will see america enter another more intense phase of tribalism that will hasten the downward spiral. Aren't you MAGA-freaks lucky you got out when you did!!!

Last month
user
mhogan

Jonathan Powers' "jacked political profile and rants against" conservatism is not suitable for consumption excepting your cronies here in Panama. Perhaps you can see your hypocrisy. Then again. It's only fair to have equal time for opposing views. Unfortunately, Newsroom shares your bias.

3 months ago
user
mhogan

Some (falsely) believe that the political spectrum (of any country) consists of Communists on the far left; fascists or dictators on the far right, and political moderates in the middle. They are wrong! A more accurate political spectrum will show government has zero power on the far right to having 100% power on the far left. At the extreme right there is no government while on the extreme left there is total government under such labels are Communism, Socialism, Nazism, Fascism, Potentates, Dictators, Kings, any form of total government. Some try to spread confusion by claiming that Nazism and Fascism are on the far right, but this is not so. Toward the middle of the spectrum is a government limited to its proper role of protecting the rights of the people. Those who fall in this center are considered Constitutional Moderates. So with this knowledge, lets analyze the 5 basic forms of government. While some may call a country’s form of government one thing, in reality it may be something entirely different. The 5 basic forms of government are: “Monarchy” (rule by one)—this does not exist in reality since it is really a group who puts one of its members up front; “Oligarchy” (Rule by a small handful of people--usually powerful, wealthy families, or “elites”) who manage somehow to convince the general population that this is not so but is a democracy; “Democracy” (Rule by majority) – in and of itself this is doomed to fail since the majority cannot be depended upon to stabilize a country and under the guise of majority rule, are free to get their way through sheer number and by creating chaos; “Republic” (ruled by law) ; “Anarchy” (ruled by no one). In analyzing these 5, we shall see that they can be narrowed down to even fewer. Monarchy (includes Dictators): every Monarch (King) has his council of nobles or earls; every Dictator has its bureaucrats or commissars as men behind the scenes. This isn’t rule by one even though one person may be the visible leader. So it doesn’t really exist in the sense of “one” ruler. Oligarchy is the most common form of government in all history, even today. Most of the nations of the world are ruled by a powerful few, so Oligarchy remains. At the other end of the spectrum, we find Anarchy, which means “without government”. Some people who have looked over history and have determined that many of the worst crimes were created by government so they decided that having no government was an improvement. (eg. U.S. invasion of Iraq; supporting Palestine over Israel; intervention in Central America, and closer to home, making victims of black slaves … like today’s black young adults claim victimhood for themselves because of their grandparents’ treatment, etc.) The Left promulgates victimhood, sometimes falsely, to their political advantage to create discord and encourage Anarchy. Eliminating government is a big mistake, as the Greeks stated that “without law, there can be no freedom”. Anarchists either decided that they wanted “no government” or, they did not want the government they had. Either way, it created chaos as a revolution for change … a chaos so disruptive to society that it threatened lives and any semblance of order. What resulted was the creation of a vacuum where something rushes in to fill it. These calculated anarchists work to break down the existing government with rioting, killing, destruction of property (Antifa?). People living in such chaos rush to those they believe are best able to put an end to it and beg them to take over and restore order (fill the vacuum). Who is best able to put an end to the chaos? The very people who started it. The Anarchists (or those behind the scenes) who created the problem then create a government where they have total power (or use Anarchists to achieve their end). If we relate this to the U.S., it could be argued that Fake News, Democrat propaganda, incessant efforts to overthrow a duly-elected president by claim after claim of corruption and limitless investigations hoping to prove something impeachable, etc., is in fact, inciting chaos. One side attacks, the other is forced to defend. Divisiveness in action! Anarchy is exactly what happened in Russia that led to Lenin taking total power and in Germany where Hitler’s brownshirts created the chaos that put him in power. More contemporary, Venezuela is in the throes of chaos by Anarchy. How will they resolve this? Will desperation for order make the populace elect what they hope will be a savior but more likely will be in the form of a new, maybe more dangerous Dictator/Socialist. What about France and its Anarchists who don’t like the policies of Macron. What is their future? What about Brexit

3 months ago
user
mhogan

Some (falsely) believe that the political spectrum (of any country) consists of Communists on the far left; fascists or dictators on the far right, and political moderates in the middle. They are wrong! A more accurate political spectrum will show government has zero power on the far right to having 100% power on the far left. At the extreme right there is no government while on the extreme left there is total government under such labels are Communism, Socialism, Nazism, Fascism, Potentates, Dictators, Kings, any form of total government. Some try to spread confusion by claiming that Nazism and Fascism are on the far right, but this is not so. Toward the middle of the spectrum is a government limited to its proper role of protecting the rights of the people. Those who fall in this center are considered Constitutional Moderates. So with this knowledge, lets analyze the 5 basic forms of government. While some may call a country’s form of government one thing, in reality it may be something entirely different. The 5 basic forms of government are: “Monarchy” (rule by one)—this does not exist in reality since it is really a group who puts one of its members up front; “Oligarchy” (Rule by a small handful of people--usually powerful, wealthy families, or “elites”) who manage somehow to convince the general population that this is not so but is a democracy; “Democracy” (Rule by majority) – in and of itself this is doomed to fail since the majority cannot be depended upon to stabilize a country and under the guise of majority rule, are free to get their way through sheer number and by creating chaos; “Republic” (ruled by law) ; “Anarchy” (ruled by no one). In analyzing these 5, we shall see that they can be narrowed down to even fewer. Monarchy (includes Dictators): every Monarch (King) has his council of nobles or earls; every Dictator has its bureaucrats or commissars as men behind the scenes. This isn’t rule by one even though one person may be the visible leader. So it doesn’t really exist in the sense of “one” ruler. Oligarchy is the most common form of government in all history, even today. Most of the nations of the world are ruled by a powerful few, so Oligarchy remains. At the other end of the spectrum, we find Anarchy, which means “without government”. Some people who have looked over history and have determined that many of the worst crimes were created by government so they decided that having no government was an improvement. (eg. U.S. invasion of Iraq; supporting Palestine over Israel; intervention in Central America, and closer to home, making victims of black slaves … like today’s black young adults claim victimhood for themselves because of their grandparents’ treatment, etc.) The Left promulgates victimhood, sometimes falsely, to their political advantage to create discord and encourage Anarchy. Eliminating government is a big mistake, as the Greeks stated that “without law, there can be no freedom”. Anarchists either decided that they wanted “no government” or, they did not want the government they had. Either way, it created chaos as a revolution for change … a chaos so disruptive to society that it threatened lives and any semblance of order. What resulted was the creation of a vacuum where something rushes in to fill it. These calculated anarchists work to break down the existing government with rioting, killing, destruction of property (Antifa?). People living in such chaos rush to those they believe are best able to put an end to it and beg them to take over and restore order (fill the vacuum). Who is best able to put an end to the chaos? The very people who started it. The Anarchists (or those behind the scenes) who created the problem then create a government where they have total power (or use Anarchists to achieve their end). If we relate this to the U.S., it could be argued that Fake News, Democrat propaganda, incessant efforts to overthrow a duly-elected president by claim after claim of corruption and limitless investigations hoping to prove something impeachable, etc., is in fact, inciting chaos. One side attacks, the other is forced to defend. Divisiveness in action! Anarchy is exactly what happened in Russia that led to Lenin taking total power and in Germany where Hitler’s brownshirts created the chaos that put him in power. More contemporary, Venezuela is in the throes of chaos by Anarchy. How will they resolve this? Will desperation for order make the populace elect what they hope will be a savior but more likely will be in the form of a new, maybe more dangerous Dictator/Socialist. What about France and its Anarchists who don’t like the policies of Macron. What is their future? What about Brexit; will it go smoothly or with rebellion? What will be the future of the U.S. with Antifa and the socialist movement behind them? Will the people opt for more or total government control (Democrat agenda) or will they take to the streets in an all-out civil war? What then? Anarchy is not a stable form of government—it is a transition. What it transitions to, in any country, is the scary part. More likely it will transition to the more power hungry party (Democrats, in the U.S. or any leadership of the world which favors more control) and away from those favoring less government. So, because it is transitionary and not permanent, we can eliminate it as a form of government. Democracy – majority rule. Sounds good; but let’s examine in examples for today. Let’s put every left-leaning American citizen, every never-Trumper, every illegal alien, Antifa, indoctrinated students who know nothing of civics, etc. on one side of the equation and every Constitutional Conservative on the opposing side. Now, because the Liberals want to do away with ICE, restrict Border Control, and in some cases, police of any kind, make Cities and States Sanctuary, give out voter registration cards (or equivalent) like candy and instill rights when none exist, the LEFT will probably be the majority (how nice that illegal immigrants’ positions are taken as valid) and because the enforcement of rule of law has been undermined, it doesn’t take a genius to see the “plan” of inception of the power hungry, total government concept. What if this new “majority” position is to ignore the Constitution and make laws that vacate the 1st, 2nd, and other clauses of the Constitution, leaving the “minority” (the Constitutional Moderates) without recourse. Case for Civil War? Maybe. Remember, without justice to restrain or if they make laws by “majority” of the people, if more than half can be persuaded to want something in a Democracy and decide to act against you, they can take your property, your children, dictate how education and health care will be delivered and basically destroy everything you value: your money destined for redistribution, your right to practice religion, your moral convictions, your right to free speech, your right to raise your children. Anyone seeing those beginnings today? A “Republic” (from the Latin: Res—meaning “thing” and Publica—meaning “Public’) or the Public Things … the Law. A true Republic is one where the government is limited by law, leaving the people alone and free to prosper. America’s founders gave its people the Rule of Law in a Republic, not the rule of the majority in a Democracy. The word Democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution. Nor does it appear in any of the Constitutions of the 50 states. The Founders did everything they could to keep the U.S. from being a Democracy. Think of this when the Democrats want to do away with each State having 2 Senators, regardless of that State’s population. Consider why they oppose the “electoral college”. They want a strict majority – a Democracy. To hell with the Republic. James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers: “…democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property, and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” To which I ask, if the U.S. or any country that promotes or seeks to promote Democracy (whether in name or in practice), what violence besets it and what will its revolutionary form take? I’m sure when Venezuelans who voted for Chavez (and later for Madura) never considered today’s Venezuela when they envisioned all the “free stuff” they were promised. Take heed, America. Take heed, all countries, including Panama. A power-hungry group at the head, with a well-laid out plan, can encourage Anarchy to cause the chaos they need for revolutionary change, to their want for more power. The U.S. is headed in that direction already. Now prosperous Central American countries could be in its sights before long.

3 months ago
user
Garlicball

You, of course, are prepared to cite examples of the so-called "left" attempts to discard the US Constitution or are you just continuing your usual bluster? Your jacked political profile and rants against Mr. Powers is not suitable for consumption excepting your cronies here in Panama.

3 months ago
user
Richard Charron

You would think Jonathan in all his "wisdom" would have figured this out by now. As to Brexit which the politicians as usual mucked up, it could have been done differently, if only the person leading the way was a true believer in what she was doing. A simple exit with nothing more than a goodbye it's been good to know you would have been far more effective. Sure the initial result would have been catastrophic but by now it would be over and almost forgotten. The U.S. will survive with or without President Trump, he simply was the catalyst and the eye opener Conservatives needed although not all of them yet realize it. As a citizen I surely hope he continues with his agenda which is two-fold in my opinion. One is to drain the swamp of business as usual and the other is to move forward with an agenda for the middle class which will return that segment to it's previous place in a successful American society while bringing along the minorities to a place most have never been before.

3 months ago
user
RedNekTex

The US government is not and never was a democracy. It is a representative republic that uses checks and balances to to protect minorities such as Democrats, rural states and non-city dwellers. Democracies have and always do end badly.

3 months ago
user
mhogan

Democracy is a short-lived form of government whose time has passed in many countries. The Founding Fathers somehow knew that America would someday revolt against this if it were to be the form of government and therefore, in infinite wisdom, created a Republic with an enduring Constitution that modified little over time. Somehow, the Left wants to discard the Constitution entirely and "try" Socialism. In their arrogance, they think they can make Socialism work when historically, it has failed miserably. Mice die in mouse traps because they don't understand why the cheese is free. It's the same with Socialism.

3 months ago
The comments are the responsibility of each author who freely expresses his opinion and not that of Newsroom Panama.
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