Thursday, 24 October 2013

A Quick Response to Russell Brand at the New Statesman

In his recent New Statesman editorial Russell writes very eloquently and perceptively and humorously ("it's long, there are jokes") of the rational apathy of most citizens toward their political process:

There’s little point bemoaning this apathy. Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people.

Apart from the implication of that "no longer", which I will get to in a moment, this is a worthy point and, imho, an accurate and useful insight into the declining political participation rate in all the self-styled liberal western democracies.

Where it really humps the mako, though, is this bit:

A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve.

Yes, it is true that we're all sent to government-designed schools that teach us government-mandated curricula, that tell us of our glorious government-approved democratic history and how the wonderful system of government we have today - about which we've just agreed few of us give a shit, so indifferent is it to us -  was designed to serve us.

The problem is, it wasn't.

It is not true that the system was designed to serve us, and nor has this ever been true.

The system was designed to serve the designers of the system, and that wasn't and isn't us.

As wonderful a document as the US Constitution is, it was designed by a handful of people to serve the interest of their own class: the very narrow class of white, educated, wealthy, privileged land-owners.

It still does this today, as it has done since 1789.

As great as the ramifications of the Magna Carta have been for the English speaking peoples of the world, it was designed by a handful of barons to serve the interests of barons. They never intended it to apply to their serfs - their property - and could not imagine that it ever would.

In spite of the progress that our fore- fathers and mothers wrested from the cold bloody hands of their lords and masters, it still serves as the public relations theme for a system that ignores us in between trampling on us.

(It's interesting that in every other context in which these barons are discussed, other than the Magna Carta, they're referred to universally as "robber barons". Only when the great charter is the subject are they, somewhat idiotically, revered for accidentally betraying their entire class by using overly ennobled language in their mutual-defence pact with the divinely appointed Monarch.)

You can tell that the system was designed to serve the interests of those already wealthy and powerful enough to impose their wills on the design, because that is what it has always done. If you only look at the fact that it does this today, you might naively conclude that it's original intent has been somehow perverted, that slowly the corrupting effects of power have twisted the original design into its present malign character.

But if you look into history you find that the system has always served the interests of the few, the designers - the Deciders, as then-President GWB styled himself and his class - at the expense of the many.

There are corrupting effects of power - the 'interests' of the powerful are growing, they are individually and collectively becoming more ruthless and less reticent in their use of the system to extract wealth and power from us all, but the nature of the system remains unchanged.

Its purpose, the principles of its design, the character of its operations, remain unchanged.

If you're going to be a radical, and strike at the root of the political corruption in our society, then you're going to have to give up the authorised history you've been taught, along with the implicit allegiance to the system that taught it to you, which goes with that history.

It's kind of a package tour.

Isn't that exactly the message of your own refusal to participate in the sham of voting?

Why then participate in the sham of a history that never happened?

Anyway, not to carp; the rest of the article was superb. Even where I disagree with you on some minor point, I applaud the passion and the perception that went into it. The fire in the heart is unmistakable and very welcome.

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