in defence of democracy

It has been some time since we last wrote and we know the outcome of the notorious election of 2016 as it was cemented in last week’s inauguration. We watched the American presidential election results roll in together and I laughed (because I’d been drinking) while you despaired. I made jokes about us seeking German citizenship – who’d have thought that ten years ago! –  you went to bed early and woke up to find your room flooded.

Enough reminiscing.

The argument you level at the door of democracy is the idiocy of the masses, am I correct? But this rests on the assumption that there is a correct answer, which there isn’t. For sure, from our standpoint recent political events are poor decisions, but that is because they seek to remove the values we hold dear. These are not the same values that everyone holds dear.

Plato said that all democracy turns to tyranny (I see your Socrates and raise you one Plato!) but in this instance I am tempted not to blame the system but the manipulation of said system by people. Do not cry idiocy at those who have been let down by the system and retaliate but look to those who perpetuate the system, especially those who stand to gain.

Take Brexit. It has served the purpose of splitting the left. The educated middle-classes, the liberal metropolitan elite as they are termed, from the socialist (and often socially conservative) rural working-class. These are sweeping categories but one gets the drift. The liberal, left-wing cannot get over the loss of freedom of movement, plus the aspiration to a wholesome European ideal and they blame the working-class, insult them and now, like children, they won’t talk to one another.

Since then no decent conversation can be had about the flaws of the EU. Despite its ideals, it still is a bureaucratic, European elite bubble backed by Germany. It pushed its neoliberal free market agenda on anyone willing to join with penalties to those that post-recession didn’t want to follow through – see Greece. While exiting no way guarantees that an alternative will be proffered it shows the depth of people’s desperation. When the Brexiters came knocking with a narrative of ‘taking back control’ and promises of money for the National Health Service they bought it. Because they were desperate and surely it can’t get any worse?

I don’t mean to inverse the classic ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game’ but maybe we should keep an eye on those who do so well out of the game. It is an easy recourse to blame the system when what we want fails to materialise. But systems don’t act alone, they are always being manipulated and upheld by people. Our attention should be on them.