Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
30 January 2012
For the next few days, starting with today’s post, we are going to publish extracts from our Mission Statement. This is partly because the Mission Statement makes for a very long read all at one go and partly because we want to assign different parts of the Mission Statement to the different categories in the sidebar to the right of this text. We can only do this after posting the article in question. The Mission Statement has been continually updated since it was first drafted late last year, so even if readers have had the stamina to check it out already from top to bottom there may be parts of the text as it now stands that are new to them.
We start this process today with a long post which sums up the key political message of the blog. Of all our posts, we consider this to be the most important. We believe that here at least we have contributed a little towards lifting the mask that conceals the ugly face of the body politic.
DEMOCRACY SUBVERTED BY PARTITOCRACY
Antigone1984 is opposed to hierarchy – kings and queens, leaders, aristocrats, bosses – in all circumstances. Management and supervisory roles should be rotated at fixed intervals among the members of a group.
The nations of the world are largely divided into dictatorships or self-styled democracies.
Naturally, the dictators do not describe themselves as dictators. Often they call themselves “fathers of the people”. Does a father employ secret police to torture those of his sons or daughters that speak their mind?
It goes without saying that we are opposed to dictatorships. That includes all those dictatorships – such as Saudi Arabia (the worst of the lot) or Bahrain – with which the “western democracies” enjoy a cosy relationship based on the exchange of oil for arms.
We are naturally in favour of democracy. This will be a major theme of the blog. What we are implacably opposed to, however, is so-called “western” democracy. Or as Gandhi might have said, if asked what he thought about western democracy: “That would be a good idea!”
In fact, democracy is neither western nor eastern. It belongs to neither north nor south. Democracy is indivisible.
Democracy is a word derived from Greek which means “rule by the people”. By this definition, however, western so-called democracies are not in fact democracies. They are partitocracies. Partitocracy means “rule by political parties”.
In the so-called western democracies, there are normally two major political parties, both of them fully committed to the market economy. Normally, one of these parties holds power for a time during which it implements market-favourable policies involving austerity for the population at large. At the next election, the party in power, which has become unpopular because of its austerity policies, is succeeded by the other party, whose popularity has not decreased since it was not the party which had implemented the austerity measures. That second party then goes on to impose on the population precisely the same austerity measures as its predecessor. At the succeeding election, its resultant unpopularity forces it to give way to the first party. And so it goes on. The two parties, having virtually the same policies, alternate in office. The party elite on both sides is reasonably happy with this system since it means that each of the parties has its turn in office. The people, moreover, has no realistic alternative but to vote for one or other party. Thus, since the parties have virtually identical programmes, the people has no opportunity to vote for change.
We have just witnessed precisely this in two European countries. In the parliamentary election in Ireland in February 2011 the right-wing Fianna Fáil party handed on the baton to the right-wing Fine Gael party, tweedledum replacing tweedledee. In November 2011 the same thing happened in Spain, the right-wing People’s Party replacing the right-wing Socialist Party.
The role of the party machine comes into its own at election time. To be elected to a parliament requires an enormous amount of time and money. Meetings have to be organised and funded, advertising has to be designed and paid for. Individual candidates do not normally have the time or money to fund a campaign. This is where the party machine steps in. The party machine provides the wherewithal to enable candidates to present themselves and their policies to the electorate. In exchange – this is of totemic importance – the candidate has to pledge to obey the party line set in private by the cupola of the party (consisting of a handful of the party elite). If elected, the new member of parliament must continue to obey the party line if he or she is to stand a chance of preferment (being appointed to a ministerial post, for instance) or simply in order to avoid being deselected by the party at the next election.
The myth is that the candidate is elected to represent the people of his constituency. The reality is that he or she is elected to represent the interests of a private political organisation (the political party) funded by lobby groups and self-interested personal backers (individuals, companies or trade unions). Thus, in a parliamentary democracy of the kind we have today in the west, the people goes unrepresented.
Imagine the outcry in a market economy if the economy of a country were to be controlled by only two giant private corporations, each of which took it in turn to rule the roost. This would rightly be described as an oligopoly or, more strictly, a duopoly and an infringement of free competition. Anti-trust action would be taken. The parallel diarchy in the political sphere is passed over in silence.
But that is not all. Many “democracies” have taken steps to make it extremely difficult for small new parties with alternative policies to break into the charmed circle. They have adopted electoral laws which set a threshold below which votes for parliamentary candidates will be discarded. Often this is fixed at 5 per cent of the votes cast, which means that unless a party achieves this percentage at national level it will not be represented in parliament. Without parliamentary representations new parties tend to wither on the vine. Which, of course, is the whole point of the minimum percentage rule: we don’t want rank outsiders bursting into our cosy political club.
The final nail in the coffin of democracy is the media. Normally controlled by a handful of giant corporations, which always favour the status quo (the present political diarchy suiting them well), the media automatically exclude non-establishment candidates from all but the most superficial coverage.
Politicians, understandably, regularly come out as the least popular category when people are polled to give their views as to which occupations they most admire. This blog has had a long and in-depth acquaintance with politicians of all stripes, both nationally and internationally. Its conclusion is that in general, with a very few honourable exceptions, politicians are the scum of the earth. Just as the scum rises to the top, so politicians have risen to the summit of the political cesspool. They represent not the people but themselves and only themselves. The sole aim of their political activity is to secure personal preferment. It is often claimed that politicians are liars, that they do not tell the truth. The blog does not believe this. The blog does not believe that they are liars. To be a liar you have to know what the truth is. The politician has no idea what the truth is. He or she does not know what the word means. To a politician, “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is defined as whatever he himself happens to be saying at any given moment in time. It need bear no relations to the facts nor to whatever that same politician has said in the past. Nor need it bear any relation to what he or she says two minutes later. As we have just suggested, to a politician the truth varies according to whatever suits his personal interests at the moment he is speaking. UK journalist Simon Hoggart summed up the typical politician when he quoted this remark by an anonymous political activist: “Most Members of Parliament are as slippery as a bucket of worms. Put your hand in and it comes out all slimy.” Public service is a euphemism for the opportunist pursuit of personal ambition.
What should happen?
Political parties should be abolished by law. As we have shown, they are the antithesis of democracy. Any citizen would be able to stand in an election. This would require a disbursement of public funds – an equal amount for each candidate, no other expenditure being permitted – for canvassing. Regardless of whether or not they had stood in previous elections, candidates would be entitled to equal air-time on radio and television and an equal amount of press coverage. That this radical change would present an organisational challenge there is no doubt. But then democracy is a messy business. If you want a challenge-free change of government, you can always bring in the colonels.
Once elected, members of parliament would be under an obligation to take instructions from no one. They would be subject to deselection at any time by their constituents, should the electors decide that they were not up to scratch.
The media would also need to be reformed. Journalists would be elected by popular vote and would not be subject to instructions from editors or news desks.
What will in fact happen? Our crystal ball indicates that nothing will happen. The status quo will continue. As we have explained above, the virtually invariable alternation in power of two parties with virtually identical policies means that no significant political change is possible in western societies. The political system has been deliberately designed to eliminate the possibility of change – while at the same time using spin doctors and advertising to give the totally fallacious impression that the alternation in power of differently named political parties does in fact represent change. As we have said above, “if voting changed anything, it wouldn’t be allowed”.
Moreover, should any political group, as a result of a political miracle and contrary to our expectations, show signs of having somehow secured popular support for measures to introduce true democracy, it is undoubtedly the case that the existing economic elite and their representatives in so-called democratic governments would not surrender power peacefully. The ultimate raison d’être of the judiciary, the army and the police is not to protect the people but to defend government against the people. The blog will be paying special attention to the role of the judiciary, the army, the police and the secret police in western societies. The blog favours the political accountability at all times of non-elected public servants. The people should have the right to relieve them of their duties at any moment.
If a society is dominated by an undemocratic privileged elite who exploit the mass of the people, if no peaceful means are in fact (as opposed to in theory) available to that people to seek redress, then has that people the right to take up arms to secure its democratic rights and an equitable share of the society’s output? The French, Russian and Chinese revolutionaries thought so. The African National Congress took up arms to defeat apartheid in South Africa. The Arab Spring of 2011 has involved popular armed revolt against the cliques in power.
One of the main problems with so-called democracy in the west is its dependence on cartloads of funding from corporate and special-interest sponsors. In January 2010, in the United States, the Supreme Court made a bad situation worse in a ruling that allows private corporations and trade unions to spend as much as they want to publicise election candidates.
Another – even worse – problem is the historic sell-out of principle by the world’s socialist parties. These parties retain their socialist moniker in order to hoodwink gullible supporters into thinking that they support socialism, whereas in reality they have gone over to the other side. All the western socialist parties are today capitalist parties. In substance but not in name, they differ in no respect from the capitalism parties of the right. They have betrayed their birthright for a mess of potage – occasional investiture with the trappings, but not the reality, of power. The reality of power remains firmly at all times in the hands of the corporations and businesses to which all political parties now do slavish obeisance. For this reason, we believe that the western socialist parties, together with their lackeys in one-time radical trade unions, are a greater impediment to political change than the conservative parties. At least with the conservative parties we know that they are our enemies. They make no bones about it. The socialist parties by contrast are snakes in the grass. They pretend to be other than what they are. As a result, they con a great many unsophisticated electors into voting for them in the mistaken belief that they remain the progressive parties of their origins, that they still represent the interests of the downtrodden and the common man. It is the Big Lie of contemporary politics. The socialist parties of today are traitors to the cause.