is being stolen from them – so writes Janet Daley in her usual Sunday Telegraph column while posing the question: How strong should central government be, and how much of our money should it spend? She further maintains that [in the United States] there has been an inexorable push over the past century toward the centralisation of power at national level and the loss of local self-determination.
Fast forward to the present day and where the United Kingdom is concerned, one can say that the process of the centralisation of power at the national level and the loss of local self-determination is nearly complete – if not completed. In her article Daley attempts to dispel what she terms three myths – it is a great pity that she did not attempt to dispel the myth that representative democracy is democracy.
But then what is representative democracy – however ‘constituted’ – if not the centralisation of power among a few with the resultant loss of local self-determination. Have we forgotten history which shows that once one power is ceded the recipient of that power then has but one aim: to accumulate more – and more – and more. Those who believe in – and practice – representative democracy do so by ‘selling’ the idea of a beneficent state, one whose only aim is to be the provider, the carer and the guardian of our safety. Unfortunately those that fall for this do so in the mistaken belief that freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint – until it is too late and they find themselves enslaved. Were Darwin alive today he would probably revise his thesis and proclaim that such people are the missing link between apes and human beings – but I digress.
It can be said that representative democracy is a political system that allows the awarding of office to the most ruthless, cunning, and selfish of mortals, one which then allows those on whom it is imposed to act surprised when it subsequently appears that those willing to do anything to win power show themselves equally willing to do anything with it – and to retain it. Readers of this blog will be well aware that I consider representative democracy to be but a form of democratised dictatorship. Where any form of dictatorship exists, then tyranny is not far behind. At which point, in this article it is worth recalling the words of Frederick Douglass (1857): Find out just what the people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
As an aside Edward Spalton kindly drew my attention to a programme aired on Radio 4 about George Washington which, as he points out, contains some very interesting food for thought for all considering constitutional matters. During this programme it is pointed out that the taxes imposed from England that instigated the eventual war with America were not that punitive – it was the arbitrary imposition of the taxes that were at the root of rebellion. As with taxation in the 1770s, so with taxation today – it is imposed in an arbitrary manner. Yet is that not what representative democracy allows: the imposition of arbitrary laws? Does it not also allow arbitrary decisions to be taken by those who attain power,which affect us all, yet on which we have no say? That is not democracy.
The biggest criticism of any form of dictatorship – be that democratised or not – is the subsequent situation wherein those ‘governing’ tend to treat the country they govern as their personal fiefdom; yet since when did the country belong to them? If, as logic demands, a country belongs to the people, then logic also dictates that it should be governed by those who own it. That premise neatly leads into the reason why the 6 Demands should – and must – be adopted if we are to have democracy at all.
Here endeth a Sunday rant.