There are respectable ways of knowing how things are run and who the beneficiaries are. Over-indulged misdirection about ‘elites’ isn’t one of them.
If you’re looking for good answers to the big old questions around “who runs things around here, and who do they aim to serve?”, then Anthony Downs’ work on ‘rational ignorance’, or Mancur Olson’s on productivity and the logic of collective action from the 1960s and ’70s is a great place to start. Continue reading here.
We can probably agree that, if someone can exert power without responsibility or legitimacy, we have a moral duty to take it from them in any way we can.
If not, please stop reading now.
Continue reading here.
Often, when I see points that are made supposedly from a ‘pro-liberal democracy’ viewpoint, I’m reinforced in the view that liberal democracy is not really understood by many of its supposed defenders.
(Yes — this post is prompted by developments in Ukraine).
Liberal democracy has an essential motor that runs it: Representation.
This was published in openDemocracy recently. The only thing I’d change to the idea is that I’d change this from “it could be 100% tax-deductible, or claimable from welfare payments” to “it could be 100% tax-deductible from VAT, because everyone pays at least £50 a year in VAT, right?”
(The average household generates around £4,700 in VAT income to the treasury).
Sir Matthew Hale
I was reading Tom Bingham’s ‘The Rule of Law’ and found Sir Matthew Hale’s resolutions. I was quite taken aback that I’d not heard of this before and even more surprised that – when I searched online – I struggled to locate it.
So, finally, having found it here, I thought I’d copy it here (below) so that I won’t forget it.
I’m struggling to think of an equivalent set of resolutions that elected representatives could adopt – and struggling even harder to understand (read this post here to interpret it easily) why I can’t recall any examples of one of them attempting to do this.
Things Necessary to be Continually had in Remembrance.
- That in the Alministration of Justice, I am intrusted for God, the King and Country; and therefore,
- That it be done, 1. Uprightly, 2. Deliberately, 3. Resolutely.
- That I rest not upon my own Understanding or Strength, but implore and rest upon the Direction and Strength of God.
- That in the Execution of Justice, I carefully lay aside my own Passions, and not give way to them, however provoked.
- That I be wholly intent upon the Business I am about, remitting all other Cares and Thoughts, as unseasonable and Interruptions.
- That I suffer not myself to be prepossessed with any Judgment at all, till the whole Business and both Parties be beard.
- That I never engage my self in the beginning of any Cause, but reserve my self unprejudiced till the whole be heard.
- That in Business Capital, though my Nature prompt me to Pity; yet to consider, that there is also a Pity due to the Country.
- That I be not too Rigid in Matters purely Conscientious, where all the barm is Diversity of Judgment.
- That I be not byassed with Compassion to the Poor, or favour to the Rich, in point of Justice.
- That Popular, or Court-Applause, or Distaste, have no Influence into any thing I do in point of Distribution of Justice.
- Not to be sollicitous what Men will say or think, so long as I keep my self exactly according to the Rule of Justice.
- If in criminals it be a measuring cast, to incline to Mercy and Acquittal.
- In Criminals that consist merely in Words, when no more ensues, Moderation is no Injustice.
- In Criminals of Blood, if the Fact be Evident, Severity is Justice.
- To abhor all private Sollicitations, of what kind soever, and by whom soever, in matters Depending.
- To charge my Servants, 1. Not to interpose in any Business whatsoever, 2. Not to take more than their known Fees, 3. Not to give any undue precedence to Causes, 4. Not to recommend Council.
- To be short and sparing at Meals, that I may be the fitter for Business.
I’m on the Partly Political Broadcast podcast talking to comedian Tiernan Douieb about Think Tank Funding and the Who Funds You website, along with a few observations on democracy in general.
This is the ‘pull quote’ – from about 39 mins in:
“It is a gross error to think that opaquely funded think-tanks increase the diversity of opinions that are available to us.”
Listen to the whole thing – but for reference, I’m on from about 20mins 45secs to 44mins 30secs, and again on 48mins to the end.
This is a two-parter on Slugger O’Toole.
Part one – the poor design of Article 50 damages both the EU and the UK. Fixing it could be a common cause that we could focus on immediately.
Part two – – now would be a good time to apply the brakes and deliberate.
I was recently interviewed by Mark Thompson for ‘The House of Comments’ podcast about my book ‘Save Democracy – Abolish Voting’.
I hope you find time to listen to it, but if you’re looking for a very short verbal summary of what it’s about (85 secs!), it can be found starting at 16min:20secs in (finishing at 17min:45secs).
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). It can be downloaded in pdf format here.
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”.