I regard myself as a social democrat.
Now and again I feel there’s something of the anarchist there too for I have an inbuilt resistance to unjustified authority. I often find authority ridiculous, wondering why it feels it has the right to exert control over me, or a decision I might wish to take. I am not alluding to peak capped traffic wardens. I mean bureaucracies, corporate tyranny, monopolies, inept city councils, and governments.
Authority is like the rule of law. It is one of the great confidence tricks of western society. Once an individual stops believing in the rule of law anything can happen. We need only remind ourselves of the last London riots where shops were looted and burned.
Those elected to high office can disregard the law as much as any individual. Their respect of the democratic process can be just as reckless.
The people don’t count
When the odious US Vice President Dick Cheney was asked by a television reporter about polls showing a great majority against war in Iraq, he replied, “So?” Working in California when he uttered the remark, my skin crawled. Here was a politician openly stating the people’s view didn’t count.
The journalist blenched. “So, you don’t care about what the American people think?”
“No” replied Cheney, “I don’t believe a politician should be diverted (blown off course?) by the fluctuations in public opinion polls.”
Well, as a large shareholder and director of Haliburton he would say that, wouldn’t he? George Bush Jr. gifted Haliburton vast contracts for the “regeneration” of democratic new-Iraq without any put to tender. As Vice President it was improper for Cheney to remain on the board, so he resigned, but kept all his shares. He must be a very wealthy man now on the backs of countless thousands killed or maimed, and the destruction of a great civilisation.
Later, a Whitehouse spokesperson was asked to explain Cheney’s dismissal of the voice of the people. Her reply: “The people have had their input. They get it once every four years.” So there you have it.
One vote only
Our democratic rights are restricted to voting at national elections only. Referenda is a curse, an anathema. Outside election time politicians do not need to listen to a damn word we utter.
We are a bit smarter about handling public opinion in the United Kingdom. In the case of Iraq our MPs edit documents and evidence to suit their objectives, and when eventually challenged, say in defence they passionately believed those factoids to be correct. That absolves them of conscious wrong-doing. Sincerity trumps crimes. If you believe in something to such an extent you feel it has to be right, then it must be right, at least at the time you thought it so.
In the case of Scotland’s self-determination senior civil servants do as the minister asks, compose a memo supporting the minister’s opinion that the pound sterling is impossible to share, ignoring the problem that the memo will have absolutely no trace of historic research or verifiable evidence to support its conclusion.
I believe I understand democratic theory, even if our elected representatives do not, hence I rebel at the merest inkling of hearing the union preserved is a no brainer, to use an American colloquialism.
Here in the United Kingdom defiance of public feeling is not very different. When the Poll Tax was thrust on Scotland we protested but lack of democratic structures left us impotent to resist. When it was imposed on England the people rose up and rioted in the streets. They could do that because they had a government at whom they could direct their anger.
There is no way to rid the world of nuclear weapons unless and until a state declines to manufacture them, or to have them on its soil. Listening to the electorate Scotland’s government wants rid of Trident. It leads by example.
This wish is perfectly in line with the conclusion of the World Court in 1978. It stated elimination of nuclear weapons was a legal obligation. The United Kingdom governments and NATO tell Scotland nuclear weapons are good for us, they bring work and security. Sensible plans exist for an international agency to reduce and eliminate fissile materials. The United nations Committee on Disarmament voted for a verifiable treaty with these provisions in 2004. Only the United States voted against it, Israel and Britain abstaining. Our warmongering generals and naval lords must have their toys.
Profit in death
There is more profit in creating weapons of mass destruction and the vessels to carry them than to spend tax payer’s billions on creating jobs that will give men and women some dignity, and rid us of the rise of new fascism that breeds on unemployment and loss of trust in democracy.
Polls show the public are well aware government is run for a few big business interests, not for the general well-being of the majority of the people. When it is clear Scotland would benefit if allowed self-determination, and the a majority of people in Scotland want greater powers, the power elite ignore Scotland’s political malaise and instead vilify the complainants, insulting the entire nation as deluded, gullible, and led by fascists.
In some circumstances there is a positive aspect to politicians ignoring public clamour. If a vote was taken tomorrow on hanging by sentence of a court I am certain a majority of those in the UK would want capital punishment returned.
The generally held opinion the threat of a death row for convicted murderers will stop them from killing is a long-held fallacy. Murders are committed for many reasons, many for irrational, psychotic reasons. It’s a truism that country is judged by how civilised it treats its worst law breakers. I would not want to see capital punishment return just as much as I would resist corporal punishment reintroduced to schools as a means of control. It taught children that the biggest bully always wins. Pupils rebelled in barely suppressed silence. They learned how to beat the system in sly ways not in open debate.
Perhaps it was being witness to daily injustices of teachers using the tawse in Scottish schools, (a length of thick leather made in Lochgelly) the “belt” brought down hard on open palm and wrist, (England used a cane walking stick on the posterior) that bred into me an intense dislike of undemocratic rules, regulations, and punishment.
“This will hurt me more than it hurts you,” extolled the hypocrisy of belt-happy teachers. Control is manufactured not by democratic consent but by brute force.
In the same way the Westminster government appeals to the people of Scotland, “Punishing Scotland for its impudence hurts us because we are your best friend, but you really are better off doing as you are told.”
Scotland is denied full democratic procedures and participation.
We are advised by our “betters,” pining for hope, for a better future, must cease!