[British and World Politics]
The historical emergence of democracy is often associated with the shift in the ownership of knowledge from an elitist core to the common masses, elevating those below to stand – at least intellectually – beside their former betters in the march towards a brighter future. In modern times, everyone in the West has access to the knowledge they need to make a choice – choice of how they want their country to be run, and who they want at its head.
Democracy is a beautiful dream, but have we actually accomplished it? In our country, the Big Three in politics are supposed to present a wide array of viewpoints, three different methods of government – but watch any election campaign (or any footage from the House of Commons), and it becomes clear that British politics is little more than a playground spitting contest, with actual policies swayed by public opinion to the point that the Big Three are different in name alone. Even their electoral strategies are the same: blame other parties for past mistakes and unpopular policies while evading questions about your own policies. Just watch the recent interview between George Osborne and Andrew Marr on fiscal plans and taxes to catch a glimpse of how slimy, slippery, and fork-tongued those who lead our country can be.
So, we live in a system wherein only those born rich rise to leadership, so desperate for votes that they will wriggle and rubberneck to fit the popular niche despite the fact that every other party has already crammed itself in there. In other words, we are ruled by a popular ideal that all of us create but none of us control, made unstable by fallible humans possessing a very narrow range of world experience to the point of neither empathising with, nor respecting, nor even comprehending those they are supposed to lead. When responsibility is given only to the entitled, the whole system begins to creak.
Erasmus said, ‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’. If so, then why are we ruled by the blind, those who cannot comprehend the issues faced by the majority? If knowledge is power, then why are idiots, perverts, and criminals making our laws?
Because we let them, maybe. But that can’t be right: I haven’t said anything new. People have always spoken against the corrupt system. Then it can only be the fact of juxtaposition: we have been led to a point where we compare our democracy only with scales of extremism. Only the most violent are heard, while productive, new ideas are ignored. We reckon this is the lesser of many evils – Utopia is a fantasy.
We are living in the age of pessimism. Only the quiet minority have the gall to stand up and speak two important words: “Even so.” Perhaps the most important words in human history. The government is corrupt, numb to the lives of those it is trying to protect, and a mockery to the very idea of Democracy? We live in a world where humans are still treated like animals, but it is unimportant because they are poor and far away? In a distant country, monsters march under a black banner, filling the rivers with innocent blood and destroying cultural artefacts, all in the name of a religion whose name translates to ‘Peace’? But we are powerless, small, and voiceless? We are cogs in a system that grinds away at our planet, filling the skies with poison and the oceans with so much waste that literal islands of toxic refuse now drift in their centres, killing any fish that swim near?
We can do better. We can be the force of change.
So speak up.