We may have reached a point in history where the trajectory that democracy has taken needs to change dramatically, if it is to survive as a respected concept.
Most readers will have an idea of what is meant by the word “democracy”. In many cases, it will be a concept that is so indistinguishable from “electoral politics” that it seems almost contrarian to de-link the two. They’re plainly not the same thing. North Korea and Iran hold elections. On the other hand, very democratic bodies often, correctly, treat the point at which things need to go to a vote as an indictment of their failure to reach a deep consensus.
So much commentary that purports to be about quality of our democracy is, in reality, political advocacy cloaked in a flimsy ethical costume. A call for “a more democratic decision” is often a code for “I want the decision to be made in a way that is more likely to result in my preferred outcome”.
(This article was first published in The Ethical Record, Summer 2018 edition)
I went on Boogaloo Radio with my old friend Ann Scanlon. No droning on about democracy for a change. Just music, and pubs, and reminiscences.
On Sunday 13th May, I will be speaking about my book “Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” at Conway Hall in central London. This is part of the “Thinking on Sunday” series of talks.
For tickets and information, please follow this link.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of “anti-imperialism” to the modern post-Leninist left. Their highest priority is to spread the word, and all kinds of moral gymnastics can be forgiven if they help to open public eyes to this not-so-obvious cause of all of the world’s problems.
It’s a touchstone. The most important argument to win. Their problem is that it’s also a tough argument to get across. For this reason, Israel is a godsend. It provides a useful, simple, parable that helps make the case for something that is a foundational belief to a political sect.
Please tell me which of these arguments do you disagree with?
1) Democracy is where the best-achievable consensus among the populace get the governance that they actually want to have over a period of time.
2) Electoral politics (with a few caveats in a good representative democracy) is where we all get the government that that the voters (often a minority) *say* they want on one particular day. It’s not exactly the same thing as “democracy”.
My latest, in The Independent today.
This has just been published:
“A brilliant new book by Paul Evans, ‘Save Democracy – Abolish Voting’…says
“If we wanted to design a system in a way that helps wealthy and charismatic people con everyone easily, we could barely design anything better than electoral politics.”
Although this is a slim volume, it poses some deep questions which deserve far more attention than they’re getting.
…even if you think Paul has the wrong solution, he is at least asking the right question. And given that so few are doing even this, he’s done a massive public service.
A very positive review from Nick Cohen in The Spectator here:
“Paul Evans’s important pamphlet Save Democracy – Abolish Voting is disturbing, and therefore worth reading, because he shows the supposed enemies of corporate power are no less elitist.
…… Drawing on the work of Mancur Olson, Evans says that the inchoate mass of people with poorly expressed concerns have little and, on most occasions, no lobbying power to match them. Laws and regulations are changed by active minorities, who either have money (lobbyists) or the time (activists) to take up politics as a hobby, whether as the highly unrepresentative groups of party members who select candidates and elect party leaders, propagandists for causes on social media, or the supporters of single-issue campaigns.
… What make Evans’s pamphlet compelling is that traditional remedies fail to answer the problems he highlights.
… Evans’s modest proposal, presented with a touch of Swiftian irony, is that rather than give every citizen the vote, the state should give each citizen an equal sum of money to spend on politics. They could then form consortiums of like-minded people to sponsor not just politicians but everyone involved in the political process – civil servants, journalists, lobbyists and so on. Only ‘players’ who secured broad support would then be able to play the game.
….Descriptions of the failures of democracy feel alive and true in the present age. Evans’s polemic is no exception. Proposals for reform, by contrast, seem a waste of breath”