Saturday, March 30, 2019

Democracy on Trial - In the United Kingdom

The New York Times headline reads, "‘We’re in the Last Hour’: Democracy Itself Is on Trial in Brexit, Britons Say."

As I'm going through the article, over on LBC radio, London, callers are having their say on whether the UK needs electoral reform, an end to "first past the post." Here's what NYT reports:
The whole world of Britain’s Parliament — its effete codes of conduct, its arcane and stilted language, its reunions of Oxbridge school chums — seemed impossibly remote from the real, unfolding national crisis of Brexit, the process of extricating the country from the European Union.
Over the past weeks, as factions within the British government have grappled for control over the country’s exit from the bloc, the mood among voters has become dark.

Those Britons who wished to remain are reminded, daily, that a risky and momentous national change is being initiated against their will and judgment. More striking is the deep cynicism among those who voted to leave, the group that Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to satisfy. They are now equally bitter and disillusioned, as the government’s paralysis has called into question whether Britain will ever leave.
In interviews, many Britons expressed despair over the inability of the political system to produce a compromise. No one feels that the government has represented their interests. No one is satisfied. No one is hopeful. 
It has amounted to a hollowing out of confidence in democracy itself. 
“I don’t think the central institutions of government have been discredited like this in the postwar period,” said William Davies, who teaches political economy at Goldsmiths, University of London.
...The referendum question has divided Britain into warring tribes, unable to settle on any shared vision of the future. An ancient, robust democracy is groaning under the weight of conflicting demands — on the executive, to carry out the will of the people; and on the members of Parliament, to follow their conscience and to act in what they believe to be the people’s interest. 
In such a situation, the country might have united in its resentment of the European Union, which had vowed to make Britain’s withdrawal painful. But that has not happened. Britons are blaming their own leaders. 
“I think people have totally lost confidence in democracy, in British democracy and the way it’s run,” said Tommy Turner, 32, a firefighter. He was perched on a stool at the Hare & Hounds, a working-class pub in Surrey, where nearly everyone voted to leave the European Union. Among his friends, he said, he sensed a profound sense of betrayal that Britain was not exiting on March 29, as promised.


Pamela Mac Neil said...

Theresa May and many other Tories, also many MP's from the opposition do not want to leave the EU, they don't want Brexit. Theresa May's deal is meant to satisfy the EU's global elite. The 17million+ Brits that voted to leave the EU mean nothing to most of their government. Leaving the EU without a deal looks like what's going to happen.

The Brits are getting a front row seat to see how their government tries to destroy by any means a deal that would allow them to leave the EU. I see the Brits wanting to leave the EU, as a desire to take their country back, a desire to once again have a National State.The Brits are right to think that they no longer live in a real democracy. There is however still enough of democracy left in Britain that the British people could have a referendum on as important a question of whether to stay or leave the EU.Always underestimating the people, the establishment was shocked when they saw that those same people had in fact voted to leave the EU.

People from countries like Britain and France are starting to realize that it is their democracy that is being threatened. I hope the Brits get their Brexit deal done, allowing them to leave the EU. I find it hard to judge how Canadians are viewing the state of our democracy. I find myself wavering between thinking that Canadians are smart people to Canadians are almost completely indifferent to what is happening to their democracy.You're right, Democracy is definitely on Trial.

Anonymous said...

Remember kiddies, free-trade deals are life or death.

Choose life and you choose a lifestyle of Robber Barons progressively gouging MOAR and MOAR from your living standards. (I.e., 'democracy'.)

Chose to end free trade and the sky will fall and kill us all!

(Oh the humanity!)

Anonymous said...

The EU is corrupt. Euro-oligarchs created it to rule from above the fray of democracy with typical Friedmanian disaster capitalism. I.e., manufacture economic crises to bring in a prescription of "far right" economic reforms. (Which themselves manufacture MOAR crises. "War is peace" kinda stuff.)

The euro was designed to fail. The guy who designed it wrote a well-received paper saying the opposite was true: that national currencies and central banks are 'optimal' in balancing out trade deficits and economic disparity. (See: 'Robert Mundell, the evil genius of the euro' – The Guardian.)

So the euro was basically an aircraft designed on the principle that gravity causes objects to float up into the sky. The so-called PIIGS really got caught up in fancy currency-manipulation scheme that put them on the hook for loads of foreign debt in, what is essentially, a foreign currency.

But the EU could be transformed if it adopts Fair Managed Trade. Then it could use social tariffs to bring raising living standards to its citizens and those in undeveloped countries. And green tariffs to rein in global warming. I.e., make the EU a real European democracy.

Anonymous said...

Love all the fact free dissing of the EU,

One would almost suspect that some people miss World Wars every couple of decades and the Empire’s mission of genociding natives, armed with nothing more than sharp fruit, with Maxime guns,

To quote the tweet of God,

You guys ruled half the world?

Anonymous said...

Ok, professor. Why don't you point out the factual errors in my comments? At least a few of them. It should be easy to do.

If you hand in a nonsense essay to the teacher, you get it back full of red ink. I.e., these statements are wrong. X X X. These ideas are logically inconsistent. O O O. The history and economics say this, not that. APPLY YOURSELF! (F, circle, exclamation point.)

Do you know what caused WW2? Robber Barons looting the financial system and the US Fed treasury during the Roaring '20s and early Dirty '30s. It triggered the Great Depression, which brought Hitler to power.

The same thing happened during the 2000s Global Financial Bust Out and Bigger Short. After Robber Barons looted the financial system and Western governments of trillions, they looted $2T MOAR from the Fed treasury. (Just little bits of history repeating.)

Anonymous said...

What caused WW1? "Liars in Public Places." I.e., Fake News! (The corporate media broke FDR's chops too. Which is why he had to speak to the people directly in fireside chats.)

Both world wars were the culmination of 5 centuries of world war fought among the colonial powers.

After WW2, Western powers pretended to end the practice of colonialism. That's when the military industrial complex became the monster that Eisenhower warned about. Colonialism on the sly. Corporate-driven geopolitics. JFK killed the New Deal. Nixon went to China to begin free-trade globalization: aka, neocolonialism.

It not only killed Western living standards (real incomes for prime-age men peaked in 1973.) It turned the world into a giant, racist, concentration-camp that keeps People of Color under the boot of oppression around the world – and even brought back slavery.

(Why is slavery only a bad thing in the past and not the present? There are more slaves in existence now than taken during the entire Transatlantic Slave Trade that lasted 3 centuries!)

Anonymous said...

Here are some BAD Euro-unitarian leaders in history:

Alexander the Not-So-Great: destroyed Athens' democracy which had existed for 4 centuries. (The Greeks were right: the Macedonians were barbarians. How could Aristotle be such a fool?)

Constantine: destroyed multicultural secular-Rome with totalitarian Fake Christianity during the 4th century.

Charlemagne: unified Europe by senselessly slaughtering tolerant Arian Christians. (Not 'Aryan.') Was crowned emperor by the pope in 800 AD. He brought a mini-Renaissance and centuries more of anti-worldly dark-age superstition, including inquisitions and crusades.

Charles V.: tried to cobble together a Holy Roman Empire. But the nationalism of Germany brought about the Protestant Reformation and his vain dream crumbled.

The Catholic Counter-Reformation brought over a century of warfare. Unfortunately the 'evil nationalists' won out, and human secularism, math, science, technology, art, architecture and the economy were allowed to keep on developing.

Napoleon, like Alexander, tried building an empire based on the premise of 'democracy.' He destroyed the 1000-year 'Holy Roman Empire' in 1806 (that began with Charlemagne in 800 AD) but only to attempt to revive it in his name. (He crowned himself emperor before the pope.)

Stalin and Trotsky: their game plan was to bring a workers' paradise to Europe in a global socialist revolution. Much of "1984" is taken directly from what transpired in totalitarian Russia. (Western socialists praised Stalin at the time, which is why Orwell wrote 'Animal Farm' and '1984'. To show people the revolution was full-circle.)

Hitler: tried to resurrect the HRE of Charlemagne ("First Reich") under the New Religion of social Darwinism.

The history of Europe is polluted with Euro-unitarians attempting to conquer the continent under the banner of some form of cultural totalitarianism. It doesn't matter what the ideology is. Just as long as people with a Medieval sense of morality are able to conquer everyone else with it.

John B. said...

This is all very interesting but my table won't accommodate any more maps. Which one of you guys is which?

Please excuse the drive-by.

The Mound of Sound said...

Populist historians, John, massage history to support their favourite narratives. I consume a steady diet of history but I don't get it from anonymous posters with ideological blinders. I'd suggest you ignore them too.

Anonymous said...

# 4 snarky comment is mine.

Pretty sure all the other anon’s are the same guy, who for some strange reason, can’t get enough attention online, and so came here.

Owen Gray said...

The Anonymi sound like the two sides in the Brexit debate.