Thursday, November 22, 2007

Egotism and the death of democracy

Sometimes when reading the thoughts of those over here I am well and truly shocked,

Now that the treaty has been agreed upon by the politicians, the question is how to take the process forward and get it actually ratified and put into force. Many argue that the way forward is to have referendums in the Member States to let the people decide on whether they approve the treaty or not.

I think that is a bad idea. The truth is that people have no clue what they are voting on. It is safe to say that close to a 100% of those who would be voting have not, and will not, even read the treaty. The vote would thus not be based on substance but on ideological views far removed from the reality of what is happening. Why would you want people to decide on something they don't know anything about?

There is a good answer to that question. A referendum might be the only way to ensure some sort of a check on the powers of the national and EU governments. Absent a referendum, the politicians can decide on what is good for us and force us to accept it. What we get is a chance to kick them out in a few years at election time if we think they did a bad job which might not be sufficient.

The problem is, as I noted, that we are not competent to vote on it. I for one still haven't studied more than little bits of the darn thing, and don't feel like I could vote yes or no. Given these circumstances, I trust the people I have voted for to make this decision for me. Whether I made the right decision in voting for them, time will tell.

There is of course a simple solution to this bloggers dilemma. Do not vote. However to state that because one does not feel competent to vote thus nobody should do so is egotism on stilts. It is akin to listening to a plutocrat calling for higher taxes for everybody. Nobody stops said plutocrat from putting a greater proportion of their cash into the Treasury, but to call for all to be penalised is arrogance.

My own favourite version of this mindset is the example of Tim Wetherspoon who lobbied for ages to introduce the smoking ban in pubs. I remember hearing him going on about on the Today programme and when it was pointed out that as the owner of well over 100 pubs he could introduce a ban himself he replied along the lines of, "If I do that unilaterally, then I will lose custom to those who do not introduce a similar ban. That is why the ban has to be across the board". Admittedly they did introduce the ban early, but only after the legilstion was already on its way.

It is all part of the same selfish, self important attitude that so disfigures our society. That which I am must necessarily be right and others must be forced to do as I do.

Not in a pluralistic democratic society sunshine, but there again, we are not in a pluralistic democratic society.

1 comment:

Dada said...

It is a strange phenomenon in this day of volunteerism, some might say forced volunteerism, that the more enlightened among us fail to blaze the trail.

Those who bemoan the lack of "investment" by government due to "low" rates of taxation rarely seem to pony up, voluntarily of course, an additional portion of their earnings in order to right the wrongs of the mind-numbed masses who prefer, "wrongly" one presumes, to keep more of their pay packet for themselves, aka "the greedy".

There is not even a need to delve into the green-hypocrisy of our enlightened classes.

I believe it was the American footbal coach Vince Lombardi, or perhaps it was Gandhi, who said:

"No guts, no glory"

Lead by doing our self-appointed guardians of all things great and good .... if only the rest of us had the ability to "understand"...