Carole Callwadr's essay in The Observer on the weekend rekindled the unpleasant idea that the peoples of Magna Carta are losing ground in the struggle to defend liberal democracy.
In Canada we think it entirely in order that fewer than two out of five voters should be enough to elect a powerful majority government. Gone is the notion that democratic states govern with the consent of the governed. Three out of five have not consented to these majority governments. They are not governed, they are ruled. The fundamental tenet of democracy is not met.
Yet Canada remains the gold standard of today's tattered remnants of liberal democracy. Faint praise. In the United States, democracy is guarded about as well as Jeffrey Epstein was in his final hours of life. Ditto for the erstwhile mother of modern democracy, Britain.
This ought to be of real concern in a world where conspiracy theorists, natavists and xenophobes, white supremacists and bigots of all descriptions groomed through social media and propaganda agencies disguised as news outlets, can tilt elections to a person so morally, intellectually and temperamentally unsuited to high office as the pathologically narcissistic Donald Trump. Should that not be enough of a warning to us all that we should rise to the defence of our own democracy?
In Britain, half the populace knows that the Brexit referendum was rigged with shady money and outside forces. Government investigations have revealed a good measure of the criminality behind the "Leave" campaign to upend what Chris Wylie called, in his testimony, Britain's ancient "constitutional settlement."
As Callawadr puts it, democracy was subverted in America's 2016 elections and Britain's Brexit referendum, crimes were blatantly committed, "With no consequences. Nobody, no company, no individual or nation state has ever been held to account."
If it wasn’t for Facebook, there would be no Brexit. The future of our country – our island nation with its 1,000 years of continuous history of which we’re so proud – has been set on its course by a foreign company that has proved itself to be beyond the rule of parliament.
Who in Britain understands that? Almost no one. The intelligence and security committee, perhaps, who reported their astonishment this week that no attempt had been made to investigate foreign interference in the EU referendum. And maybe Dominic Cummings, the man who sits in 10 Downing Street by Boris Johnson’s side.
Dominic Cummings understands the role that Facebook played in Brexit. He wrote about it. In excruciating Cummings detail. He described the deliberate use of misinformation targeted at unknown individuals in an election operation the scale of which had never been seen before. He deployed more than a billion Facebook ads, he says. At a cost of pennies per view.
The fact is that we now know how the platform was systematically abused by the Leave campaigns. We know that loopholes in our laws were deliberately exploited. And we know that these actions were proved to be illegal and “punished” by “regulators” whose “regulations” have been exposed to be not worth the paper they are written on.I was brought up believing that democracy was defended with armies and navies, aerial armadas of fighters and bombers overhead. It even got to the point that democracy was to be defended by strategic bombers and missile subs and hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles in silos topped with eight or ten "MIRV" nuclear devices, each warhead targeted to take out a different city. We had strategic nukes, tactical nukes, nuclear artillery, nuclear depth charges, nuclear anti-aircraft missiles. Nukes up the yin/yang. We were willing to extinguish life on Earth to defend democracy. Young people today may find that hard to digest but, hey, when I wore the uniform that was the bottom line. I remember going to "stores" and getting that first issue of regulation underwear, shirts, socks and a personal roentgen meter on a chain to wear around my neck.
It's pretty clear that governments no longer fret about defending democracy. Despite the evidence, the analysis and the warnings of every intelligence agency in the United States, the White House and Congressional Republicans have blocked every effort to fortify America against electoral interference this November. If you were running a company and your head of security did that you would probably figure out that he might have been in on it the first time you got robbed.
Why do you think we have dropped our focus on defending and bolstering democracy? Has neoliberalism made democracy less relevant? Has the invisible hand of the marketplace reconciled Western democracy with totalitarianism in China and elsewhere under the cloak of globalism? Are we all just "free traders" now? Do we, as a people, even care about this anymore or has it become an antiquated notion? Are we too docile, tamed, intimidated to stand up and demand better? Could it be all of the above? Are we just too comfortable to bother that others pull our strings?