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Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Democracy is broken?

A little rant provoked by this article: For too many people in too many countries, democracy isn't working.

I've already posted about democracy (here and here) during the Brexit debate.

Democracy is not a system that you can apply, or fix. It is a culture, which you have to develop, and which you can lose.

It doesn't create unity, it helps to preserve it.

It is the best way for power transmission without bloodshed that mankind has managed to come up with so far.

Democracy isn't failing in Iraq, society is failing in Iraq. Which is to be expected in a post-totalitarian, cobbled-together non-nation.

Arguably society is also failing in the Western countries with political 'deadlock'. Either that or people are voting for a centre which is not there; or parties are veering to extremes in search of more votes (and power); or (my view), things aren't actually that bad and the population are quite happy if the politicians are occupied with fighting between themselves, rather than screwing things up while pretending to fix them.

Polarisation has an effect on democracy, it is not a symptom of democracy. So media outlets complaining about populist politicians whilst conveying disapproval of 'deplorables' are actually speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

Obviously, there are powerful people who have a vested interest in the status quo. But for anyone with a modicum of feeling for history (a rare thing these days apparently), it is obvious - or at least plausible - that in the Western world at least, the vast majority of us have a vested interest in the status quo: because though anyone can imagine how things could be better, that doesn't mean that anyone knows how to make things better, nor that their proposed solution won't make things worse.

So is that an argument for stasis and conservatism? Well I prefer to see it as a variant of the old engineers' dictum of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". But in this case, it would be: "If you can see more ways things could get worse than better, content yourself with tweaking and don't try anything radical".

"He recognised that without a shared home and culture based on the inherited values, customs and laws of a nation state there can be no sense of “we”."
- Melanie Philips on Roger Scruton

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