From Edward Spalton and reproduced with his permission:
“If you have been on holiday to some of the more popular foreign destinations and seen our fellow countrymen and women en masse, it certainly gives you second thoughts about the desirability of being ruled by such people.
By “Democracy” most people also assume a limited government, securing property rights and constrained by law but that is not inherent in the word itself which simply means “rule by the people” who can be stupid, brutish, selfish, capricious and destructive.
The American founding fathers were very conscious of this and built in checks and balances to restrain the potential power of the people to overturn law and decency. The form of government they adopted was “republican” rather than “democratic”. As one of them remarked, too “democratical” a constitution would mean “We have but exchanged King George for King Numbers”. A lynch mob is democratic, proceeding by majority. A jury is limited by rules and requires unanimity.
Even with their entrenched, super-statutory constitution, Americans of our sort of outlook have much the same grievances about the duopoly of arty power and erosion of rights and freedoms which, they believed, were secured for all time. Growth of central government has been the main cause, impelled by two world wars and never checked. Even the independent Supreme Court, supposedly the ultimate guardian of such rights, has succumbed to legal activism and seen fit to interpret the constitution in ways which destroy states’ and individual freedoms which the founding fathers would certainly have regarded as essential.
The Whig historian Macaulay, writing in the early nineteenth century with the benefit of a classical education, observed that no democracy could long survive the discovery by the people that they could vote themselves funds from the public purse.
From the fairly Spartan safety net provision envisaged by the Beveridge report, the Welfare state has grown monstrously into a very popular universal provider. It was one of the aims of the “Civilised society” envisaged by Roy Jenkins to erase every last distinction between “deserving” and “undeserving” recipients of state benefits of all sorts. His was the era when single motherhood became a reasonable career option for women of modest attainments. The state became the complaisant
husband, providing for the offspring of successive “baby fathers”.
So a huge function of government is now redistribution of wealth in the cause of “equality”. This has moved into the field of law and mind manipulation in a very intensive way. It was within the power of the Conservatives to have stopped Harriet Harman’s monstrous “equalities” Act in the wash up at the end of the last Parliament. But they let it through and are enthusiastic supporters of its perpetual search for discrimination of all sorts – hence the promotion of homosexual “marriage” as a supposedly conservative value. From reaching into pockets, the state now reaches deeply into minds – and it seems to be
widely and passively accepted. When canvassing some years ago, people would often start to tell me their minds and then check themselves suddenly, asking “Am I allowed to say that?”
This level of mind control has not been achieved by brute government force but has been made possible by the cooperation of the mass media. Without it, the state would not have been able to achieve this level of automatic self-policing of thought and speech.
Political parties used to represent real constituencies of interests and opinions. To operate, they needed extensive local organisations, largely staffed by volunteers giving their time and effort for the cause and for their perceived self interest.
With the advent of sophisticated mass media manipulation, that is all very old fashioned and unnecessary. Activist members expected to have their opinions heard and debated at meetings and national conferences – the antithesis of the modern, smooth projection of the party and leader, united behind the carefully crafted phrases and logo-branded programme and message. Party members can be very inconvenient for the leadership. The full weight of anti terrorist legislation was brought down on an old gentleman who dared to shout “rubbish!” at a Labour Party Conference. In the late Nineties, a senior UKIP figure of the day told me “Why should we want more members? They only create expense”. He was certainly on the
ball with regard to the way the main parties are organised today.
Parties are now marketing brands, dependent on the perceptions which they create through the media. In exchange for franchised use of the brand, politicians largely surrender their independence of speech and action. The bargain is “Toe the line and we will get you elected and keep you there”.
The Leveson enquiry is revealing the astonishing licence which the “Fourth Estate” has been granted by the political class. Newspapers and other media outlets would never have dared to behave in the way they have done, if they had not had a nod and a wink from politicians ultimately responsible for their regulation. Close social relationships were fostered between cabinet ministers and editors. This is rather different from a newspaper proprietor occasionally lunching with a
minister. Now, media and politics are essentially mutually dependent parts of the same increasingly corrupt, manipulative business.
Real parliamentary reporting has almost disappeared from serious newspapers. It used to be a mainstay of the broadsheets but, in an era of soundbites, it is beyond the capacity of the average reader to absorb. Additionally, the whole parliamentary process has become a charade with the real decisions made elsewhere. So most debate is a ritualised sham, like the circus around Prime Minister’s Question Time. Where in the Commons today would you find an orator of principle and
passion who could bring MPs from their bars and offices just to listen to the performance, knowing it would be something significant?
The parties would not go banging on about “equality” or “equalities” so much if their focus groups did not tell them it was popular. Back in the Sixties Labour demanded an educational system which would give not just equality of opportunity but equality of outcome. So, paradoxically, the elite has to appear to campaign against “elitism”. It is a fraud, of course. The progressive educationist, who campaigns for local dialects or Jamaican patois to be recognised as equal to standard English, got his position and eminence because of his own mastery of standard English of a jargonised sort – as did every other Frankfurt Marxist university lecturer. Their ascendancy is now so entire that the Conservative party has surrendered to the doctrine in its attempt to stop being “the nasty party” and to “detoxify the brand”.
By definition fifty percent of the population will be of below average intelligence and attainments. A considerable proportion of the upper fifty per cent , often in positions of power and leadership, has been persuaded that it is “caring and compassionate” to play on the resentments of the less successful and make their careers out of it. The proponents of comprehensive education demanded that children should “rise with their class not out of it”. Leicestershire was the first
county to go comprehensive in the Fifties and the Leader of Ashby de la Zouch Urban District Council expressed the aim rather succinctly. “Good, working class lads go to grammar school, get good jobs and vote Tory. We’re going to put a stop to that.” My teachers ( who, I guess, were mostly Labour voters) were horrified. That aim has been achieved and now
further state intrusion in the selection of children on class grounds for university entrance is necessary to correct the effect of the policy!
Notoriously, the most enthusiastic closer of grammar schools was one Hilda Margaret Thatcher. The Conservative party, then as now, saw that soft-headed equalitarianism was popular with the people and so sticks to the same policy to this day.
People who have come to accept this type of state and its deliberately aroused expectations of prosperity and equality of outcome “for the many not the few”, largely regardless of merit and effort, are unlikely to be very keen on real democracy where they would have to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices. Far easier to expect “proper planning” and that “they” should do something about it and to become the dupes of the grievance mongers when their expectations are not met.
Every revolution and successful political movement has depended not on “the people” but on a committed elite of one sort or another who knew what they wanted and organised to get it. Whether it was the Whig nobles who organised the Revolution of 1688, the totally devoted ideological cadres of the Bolshevik party who brought about the appalling Russian revolution or the “aristocracy” of the Labour party which emerged and developed over only a few generations – the Harmans, Toynbees, Milibands and the like. Conservatives tended to place their trust in established leaders of society. They felt they could trust a gentleman but those days of deference are gone. No longer could a Willie Whitelaw put on his Guards Brigade tie to crush a rebellion in the party ranks and tell them that “like it or not”, this or that was going to happen. The solution has been largely to get rid of most of the party rank and file. As Stalin remarked of dealing with his own little, local difficulties “No people, no problem”.
So where will we find the necessary, credible, committed elite to lead a tamed, apathetic, people, brainwashed to be risk averse, to the difficult idea of actually ruling themselves?”
In response to Edward’s last question I would hope that following the final, agreed, adoption of the Old Swan Manifesto, conversion of the people to the idea of actually ruling themselves will prove unstoppable and therefore the need of an elite section of society to do that will be unnecessary.