Richard North, 23/04/2012  


Democracy in government means "people power". Loosely translated, that is what the word democracy means: "demo" equals people; "cracy" equals power. If the people have no power over their government, then we have no democracy. Simples.

The trouble, though, is that it is anything but simple. Power is not a commodity that can be easily measured, nor is it evenly distributed nor fixed in time or space. And it is most often shared between groups and between different tiers of government, with constant ebb and flow as circumstances change.

Even more problematically, power is not an end in itself, but a tool – it is the means to make things happen, or to stop them happening. As such, it is infinitely variable. In some things, aman may be all-powerful. In others, he may be completely powerless.

Then there is the problem of defining the "people" within the broader context of democracy. I am "people", but if I come to dominate my fellow man, I would be a dictator. To prevent this happening – in theory at least – the people exert their power as a body, in which the majority prevails.

Rule of the majority, however, brings its own problems. If I fundamentally disagree with the majority, and it has the means to impose its will on me via its government, I am powerless. For me personally, this is not democracy. I have no power.

Such conundrums are not new, or newly thought of, but they serve to illustrate the complexity of definition. I sometime think it would be better to abandon the term "democracy" altogether, it being a meaningless term which simply enables facile politicians like Cameron to make fatuous statement.

But, if we are not a democracy, what are we?

Some people get round the definition problem by adding an adjective. Thus, where we give some of power to representatives for a limited period – people we call members of parliament – then we call ourselves a representative democracy.

Here there is another problem. If our representatives have very little power, or do not actually represent our wishes – or even the majority – then our representative democracy is neither representative nor a democracy. Some of us (fewer by the year) may vote for the MPs, but that is neither here nor there.

These are the sort of things Witterings from Witney is so ably discussing. Some stand off, to sneer and jeer, others seek to claim the debate for their very own. Most ignore it.

But these issues have to be addressed. If we are not a democracy (and I'm not sure we ever can be, or would want to be one, if it was capable of existing), then what are we, and what do we want to be?

Unfortunately for WfW, we are not going to get answers from the likes of Redwood, whom he is currently tormenting. MPs are there to protect the status quo, not change it. The same goes for the MSM, and the establishment.

Their task is to convince us that we are in good hands and that they are the right and proper people to rule us. Their role is to control thought and constrain freedom of action. And that is why we are having to go elsewhere for our answers. When we meet at the Old Swan, I am minded to put the question to the group: "what are we?". Others may want to put their views on the forum, or send me an e-mail. I would welcome the observations.

And, by the way – we are still working on the forum. I am not taking any new members on this one, as the ambition is to create a new forum which will be open to all. At the moment, I just can't do this, owing to the insoluble spam problem, so please bear with me.


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