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8 March 2018
“Elections change nothing.”
Pronunciamento attributed to the then German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in 2015 in the course of the imposition of a financial strait-jacket on Greece by the European Union (led by Germany) and the International Monetary Fund.
In a referendum on 23 June 2016, the British people voted by 51.9 % to 48.1 % to leave the European Union.
Those who voted to leave the EU we call Leavites or Brexiteers (a term derived from Brexit – Britain’s Exit from the EU). Those who voted to stay we call Remainers or, more bluntly, “Remoaners”.
The bombshell of the referendum result left Britain’s self-preening metropolitan elite in a state of clinical shock. Smugly confident that the conventional wisdom would, as usual, prevail, they woke up on the morning of 24 June 2016 to the apocalyptic news that they had backed the wrong horse. The Remoan camp had tanked.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth that arose from the distressed herds of Remoaners could be heard from London to Brussels.
The initial lamentations lasted a day or two. Then the forces of reaction set to with a vengeance. The ululations gave way to indignation.
“How dare they, the plebs!” was the new cry. “The sad misguided fools! Knowing nothing of Europe, unlike ourselves, they have voted in culpable ignorance of what is at stake! Otherwise, like any right-minded person in possession of their wits, they would have voted to continue to worship at the altar of the glorious utopia that is our European Union!”
The sound of Friedrich von Schiller’s 1785 “Ode to Joy” as set to music in the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 1823 Ninth Symphony, the marching tune of the European Union, is heard suddenly in the distance….
Before long the Remoaners had regrouped and had developed a strategy to thwart the result of the referendum.
The first step – other strategems will be analysed in our next post on Brexit – was to question the democratic basis of the vote. Frothing at the mouth, they raved that this was not democracy. What? A majority of 51.9 % to 48.1 %, and the result was invalid?
“Yes, this isn’t democracy!” ranted the Remoaners. “It’s populism!”
They seem oblivious of the fact that populism comes from the Latin word “populus”, which is the exact equivalent of the ancient Greek word “demos”. Both words mean “people”.
Democracy is “rule by the people”.
In modern societies the people vote and the winning majority carries the day. Sometimes, as here, the margin between either side is not huge, sometimes it is more substantial. But that is the way the cookie crumbles.
If you are a democrat, populism is actually a good thing.
What is more, direct democracy in the form of a referendum is, by definition, infinitely superior to so-called “representative democracy” in which parliamentary candidates undertake to carry out the will of the electorate precisely until the moment when they get elected, at which point the interests of the people are consigned to oblivion and the newly elected member, in an orgy of unadulterated opportunism, focuses on sucking up to the hierarchs in his/her political party in order to advamce the member’s personal political career.
In any case, most people in western countries most of the time seem to accept the outcome of democratic elections, regardless of whether that democracy is direct or representative.
And that includes the complacent conformists of the lumpen bourgeoisie – so long as they get what they want, which they usually do, since they normally have the power to arrange things – mainly via the inherent corruption of party politics -so that that is the case.
However, as is blindingly evident from the reaction of our bien pensants to the straight-forward democratic result of this referendum, when they don’t get what they want, they kick up an all-mighty fuss and throw their toys out of the pram.
What part of democracy do you not understand? One might ask.
The hypocrisy of this self-serving reaction is all the more evident if one considers what the attitude of the Remoaners would have been had the vote gone in their favour – had 51.9 % voted to remain within the EU and only 48.1 % to leave.
In that case, you would not have heard a dicky bird from them. In that event there would have been not the slightest outrage at the fact that the majority was not more substantial.
In fact, votes take place all the time in democratic countries where the result is fairly evenly balanced. The convention still is, nonetheless, that, in a straight fight between two sides, the winner is the candidate who obtains the majority of votes cast.
The fact that in this referendum the Remoaners are prepared to put the interests of their own class or cabal above the democratic result reveals the dirty underbelly of Britain’s supposedly democratic society.
Which brings us back to the declaration attributed to Schäuble at the head of this post: Elections change nothing”.
The fact is that the EU itself – the embryonic superstate to which the anti-democratic Remoaners aspire – is not the greatest fan of popular participation in the formulation of policy.
In his polemic, “Why vote leave”, a very readable summary of the arguments for Brexit written by UK MEP Daniel Hannan and published before the referendum in 2016, Hannan includes a list of eight referendums in EU member states in which voters rejected the proposition put forward by the EU establishment (Figure 3, page 38). The results of only two of these referendums were deemed acceptable to the EU elite. In the case of the other six, the results were either ignored or the electorate was forced to vote again – until voters came up with the correct result, ie that in favour of the EU position.
Accordingly, on the basis of experience, a general working rule has been adopted in EU member states:
Referendums – direct consultations of the electorate – are to be avoided if possible. If this is not possible, then the EU member state must spare no effort to get its voters to back the EU line in the unwanted referendum. If, nevertheless, the outcome of the referendum is to reject the EU proposition, then the referendum should be re-run until such time as the electorate gets it right. Or, even better, the result should simply be ignored by the powers that be.
A good example of the latter took place in Greece in 2015.
On Sunday 5 July, in a turnout of 63% of the electorate, 63.3 % of voters rejected – and only 38.7 % approved – the punitive economic hairshirt being woven for Greece by the Triad of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a loan.
Barely a week later, on Monday 14 July, Greece’s very own Quisling, Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister and leader of the erstwhile leftwing Syriza party, in a blatant snub to the express wishes of the Greek nation, capitulated hook, line and sinker to the Triad, accepting the evisceration of the Greek economy in exchange for 30 pieces of EU/IMF silver.
This is democracy at work in the EU. It is a bit like democracy at work in the National Congress of the People’s Republic of China.
Nach dem Aufstand des 17. Juni
Ließ der Sekretär des Schriftstellerverbands
In der Stalinallee Flugblätter verteilen
Auf denen zu lesen war, daß das Volk
Das Vertrauen der Regierung verscherzt habe
Und es nur durch verdoppelte Arbeit
zurückerobern könne. Wäre es da
Nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung
Löste das Volk auf und
Wählte ein anderes?
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
The Solution is a poem written in 1953 by the leftwing poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1956) about the uprising that year against the Communist regime in East Germany.
A post published on the net on 26 June 2016 by “Baron Bodissey” refers to an interview given by Joachim Gauck (German Federal President 2012 – 2017) to the German regional public-service broadcaster ARD. With reference to the growing sense of national identity and the danger that the EU might disintegrate, Gauck explained: “The elites are not the problem at all, the population is at the moment the problem.” In doing so, according to “Baron Bodissey”, Gauck was taking his cue from EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker “who thinks that European governments pay too much attention to popular opinion”.
On 21 June 2016 – two days before the referendum – a correspondent addressed us thus:
“I’m interested in what you describe as a decision of momentous consequence. ….The reality is that the European Union is an expensive talking shop whose achievements are vastly overblown. It keeps minutes and wastes years…. The truth is that a lot of hot air has been expended and Britain will vote to remain in the UK and the chattering classes will have to find a new topic to preserve their illusion that they too are relevant.”
On 24 June 2016, the day after the referendum, when final results showed that the Leave vote had won, this same correspondent, shocked out of their cocksure complacency, was singing a quite different tune:
“Morons, blockheads, ignoramuses…” these were some of the milder expletives they used to express their contempt for the majority of voters who had exercised their democratic right to vote in favour of Britain leaving the EU.
Yet if this decision was not of momentous consequence, as they had claimed a few days before the referendum, why were they so exercised when the result turned out to be the opposite to what they had expected?
We have to read between the lines. We interpret their position to be as follows: membership of the EU is not a momentous matter – but even if it were, it doesn’t matter in practice, because we are quite sure that there will never be a majority vote in favour of leaving the EU.
According to the philospher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), the ignorant are cocksure, while the wise are open to doubt.
The vote in favour of secession blew these guys out of the water. They are still reeling from the shock.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
- Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
- Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
- The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
- Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
- Ladder (21 June 2012)
- A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
- A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
- Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.