I recently wrote a post on the paradox whereby liberal democracy can carry within it the seeds of its own destruction. The example quoted, from Paul over at Never Trust a Hippy, went thus:
Paul says these interesting things in his latest post:
I’ve often been asked about what happens when a new electoral process results in an illiberal government. I’ve been told that “if you promote liberal democracy, for example, in many countries in the Middle East, you create a situation whereby a totalitarian-ish Islamist party can take power”.
Surely this presents us with a paradox?
Well… no it doesn’t. If you hold an election, and the resulting constitutional settlement allows the winner to abolish, or rig, subsequent elections, then the election was not part of a process that could be described as ‘liberal democratic’ in the first place.
I remember the above, once more, as the
Muppet Tory Party hold their annual hatefest in Manchester this week. When, for example, I read stuff about David Cameron and Chris Grayling saying they’re looking to repeal the Human Rights’ Act, I am reminded of how challenging such broad-ranging measures are to our liberal sense of freedoms. If historical Conservatism has any virtue at all, it is in its instinct to move cautiously when amending the fundamentals of any complex system. You can never fully appreciate the long-term impact on anything when you rush fairly headlong into the matter. Witness, if you will, New Labour’s initial steps towards NHS privatisation which have tragically laid the crazy-paving path of disaster the Tories are currently marching along and extending.
Using the law to undermine the law is a dangerous precedent of those who would forge and refashion worlds. If politicians of this ilk like to criticise publishers such as the Murdochs and Assanges of our time for the megalomania they exhibit to ordinary people’s points of view, they might also care to examine their own impulses and attempts to change the terrible basics of human conflict and existence.
Politicians of this kind are little more than megalomaniacs of lever-pulling rule. Only they believe – and this is the worst of it – that they do it, in the end, for our benefit.
For it is quite one matter when political parties like New Labour overwhelm us with legislation which builds on and furthers existing moralities. We may agree with them or not; but they are existing, all the same. In this, I think we can see that the beast was far more truly conservative than these current Tories.
It’s quite a separate matter, though, when you aim to upturn received opinion; when you look to drive a country down the alleyways of prejudice where its unkindest instincts lie.
And when you use the law to undermine such received opinion, I honestly – sadly frankly – believe we are talking about little more than a de facto takeover of liberal democracy by those who would destroy its essence.
I can only repeat what I wrote in the piece I opened with this morning, where I rewrote my beloved Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics:
Let’s rewrite them, then, but this time specifically in order to define how liberal democracy must defend human beings:
- Liberal democracy may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- Liberal democracy must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- Liberal democracy must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Or, alternatively, and perhaps equally revealingly, to define how human beings should defend liberal democracy:
- A human being may not injure liberal democracy or, through inaction, allow liberal democracy to come to harm.
- A human being must obey the orders given to them by liberal democracy, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A human being must protect their own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
If only some of the puppets peopling Tory Party Conference this year would take note of the importance of defending those basic principles of freedom – principles we should hold far more dearly than we do – perhaps, then, we could reach some kind of productive consensus in our broken politics.
For that, in truth, is now where we’re at. Some of our politicians, who represent us from election to election (but don’t seem really to represent anyone except themselves), see the rest of us through a prism of broken politics: for them, it is our society which is broken and their responsibility to sort it. But in reality what’s broken is Westminster itself. It’s not us they need to mend but their own sorry front door.
It’s not us who have burgled the House of State at all. It’s some of these society-reforming busybodies who have forgotten the very English concept of taking people with you when you propose change.
It’s some of these politicians who believe the law’s primary purpose is to abruptly upend everything that came before, instead of building on good practice and better beliefs.
Using the law to undermine the law is anything but good politics, business or governance. And in the end, it comes back to bite you in the backside. But in the meantime, before it does, very many ordinary citizens will suffer the awful consequences.
That is the real tragedy of this dreadful Muppet Show. That is the real tragedy of incompetent governors like Cameron & Co. We suffer, they don’t – and all the while, the United Kingdom no longer will be.
Roll on One Nation is all I can say. Even where this will only mean I can contemplate a tidy little England for myself.