Clap your hands if you believe in democracy

It took me a while to notice how few people believe in democracy because nearly everyone claims, often very vocally, to love it. What they really mean is they believe in a parliamentary system with elections every few years, which is a very different thing. What I mean when I say I believe in democracy is that I believe people should have control over their own lives and should have a say in decisions affecting them.

Written blandly like that it sounds innocuous enough, but it would require governments and professional decisionmakers to give up their right to make decisions, and to give up the idea that they know best. We live in a society governed by an elite who believe very strongly that they know what is best for people they have never met – it is considered bad manners to admit this but it shows constantly in their actions. In response a lot of the attempts by lobby groups to change government policy, no matter how well meaning, are merely attempts to change the minds of the elite, because really, it’s not worth the bother of changing the minds of the little people.

Green campaigners are some of the most guilty parties in this. They believe that the urgency of their cause means that changing the minds of the decisionmakers is more important than changing the minds of the people. They rarely admit to themselves how anti-democratic this is, and if they do notice, they see it as a necessary evil.

Well, maybe, but they have no right to be surprised if it comes back to bite their arses in the form of, say, riots against green taxation that will discredit their movement for a generation.

It is difficult to believe in democracy, because we must believe in something we have never seen. In a society like ours with an elitist tradition rather than a functioning democratic tradition it is very difficult to believe that people really can make decisions for themselves, because undemocratic societies keep their subjects in ignorance and so their decisions are made in ignorance.

It requires a leap of imagination to conceive of an educated population who have always been involved in the debates about matters affecting their lives. Only imaginative people believe in democracy, and that excludes our politicians, our civil servants, our journalists, our professional commentators, and our professional lobbyists, whether green or any other colour.

For the disease of lack of imagination the Sheikh of Alamut recommends a small block of this multi-purpose squishy brown substance. If it doesn’t make you believe in democracy I can at least use you for my missions. Better to be an honest assassin than a phoney democrat.

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