It is a shame that the ideal of democracy has become so twisted from its original purpose that what lies before us is now a horrifying disfigured and deranged monster that would cause Athenians to cry “oligarchy”.
This concept was the anti-democratic idea of the complete power, direction and decision making of a state monopolistically falling into the concentrated hands of a few individuals.
The Greeks famously both loathed and feared it. We live, in the United Kingdom, the US and throughout many modern nations in Europe and beyond, in ‘representative’ democracies.
This is, of course, much different from the now dubbed ‘direct’ form of democracy that was created so long ago in Ancient Greece — that provided an enduring cornerstone of light to Western Civilisation. We could endlessly discuss the benefits and shortcomings of our modern system, with those who defend it falling back on all of the textbook established arguments in its favour. Only this results in meaningless and vapid, pre-discovered and outdated commentary. All the while, Paris burns. The violent reactions from the public in the West should be signalling to our ruling class that something is wrong. Disillusionment is unleashing itself as a once great revolutionary concept for governance twists itself further away from its true founding populace-concerned origin. Elected representatives and politicians no longer see their role as to serve the people but engage in venture of self-justification.
Mistakenly and desperately believing that the mechanism of their election entitles a full and unwavering endorsement of their every intention and ideal.
The French personification
This fallacy must cease — and today nowhere does it manifest itself as intolerably as in France. Here, we may be beginning to see its outcome. ‘ Jupiterian ’ ruler Emmanuel Macron is the embodiment of such a detestable and openly elitist attitude in politicians. For the man whose ‘ thoughts are too complex for journalists ’, criticism is always unfounded. He needn’t answer to the mob, he knows far better, and the public are his subjects. Only, as the angry French taken to the street have beautifully illustrated, he does not have — and never did have such convincing consent and legitimacy with his electorate to act, in office, like a ruling emperor. French cities have shown why this delusional self-important arrogant behaviour among politicians is not just irritating — it is angering and dangerous for the future and continuity of our states.
Yet, it persists — and despite acting as the loudest metaphor Mr. Macron is far from the only offender. On closer inspection, it becomes increasingly questionable why the French liberal ever allowed himself to believe any such fallacy. As Spiked author Tom Slater accurately points out — he was the ‘not Le Pen candidate’ and after only polling 21% from French voters in the first round of the French election, where a choice was available of a number of candidates, he still managed to cede 34% in the second round to his unpopular populist opponent. His opponent, Marine Le Pen, made significant gains of 18% from the previous time an unpopular French populist made it to the second round. This was when her father Jean-Marie had been soundly defeated in 2002. Macron had, in a two-option run off, won by a considerably reduced margin against an extremist. The polls today , show Macron’s errors mean that disillusioned France has shifted ever critically closer towards populism.
The concept of a Le Pen premiership has become a very real possibility. On the wave of his victory, the man’s perception was confused to that he had been awarded an unwavering mandate in his reform aim, seemingly misunderstanding that he had been elected as centrist. The public had expected him to repair the areas where the centre left and centre right had failed, and crucially, to listen. Listening is something that ‘centrist’ Macron, however, has proven to hold no intention to do. A dispassionate, patient, under the radar and temperate attitude was needed to heal the wound of a deeply divided France. This was always at odds with Emmanuel’s intentions. His regard for himself above journalists (who were reportedly not bright enough to understand Macron’s divine ‘complex’ thoughts), Africans (who didn’t understand they were the fault of their own misery — having too many children) French veterans (who needed reminding the true meaning of ‘patriotism’ by brave internationalist Macron) and the Unions, mean the president on every occasion possible spoke condescendingly down to his subjects.
Politics is about image and it is a wonder he cannot understand nor evaluate his own mistakes in a dramatically ironic Tsar Nicholas II fashion. His obsession with his own image meant the French public soon discovered their elected representative and conditional leader spent £26,000 on makeup in three months. Obsessed and in love with his image, even Brigitte has described her husband as “too arrogant”. After election the French president appeared totally, in his manner, unphased and unconcerned by public attitudes. This can accurately be diagnosed as the sparking cause of public anger and corrosion of their faith in current democratic processes. Macron’s likening of himself to Jupiter is an interesting and tragically concerning one. Not only does it show an astounding lack of humility that was required from a leader elected under such conditions but his particular choice is questionable. The Olympians and Roman gods were extremely flawed characters — vindictive, jealous, rash and immature. Does he not realise this? Or does he questionably believe Jupiter is an example of a leadership role-model to follow? By his defiant and unapologetic errors in office, perhaps. The notion of grandeur, power and elegance, however, is what can be assumed Macron was perhaps wishfully alluding to. Somehow the current 72% disapproval ratings don’t seem to warrant such continued self-assured confidence. The Gilets Jaunes protests were undoubtedly sparked by unrelated errors in policy, however one would be blind not to read the citizens on the streets were spurred by particular disliking of his aurora. And to every French citizen currently on the street, representative democracy has failed.
Excuse me I’m an elected politician
The illusory letters of ‘Rep.’ or ‘MP’ transforming a name into a title perhaps has a psychologically inflationary effect on one’s ego and sense of self-importance. The fact remains, it doesn’t make you a better person. In the UK, on the momentous issue of leaving the European Union (EU) — something regarding the entire direction of our country’s future — the same ‘above the people’ attitude returns among politicians. MPs Anna Soubry, Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles — outspoken ‘remainers’ insultingly often make little attempt to hide their utter denial to listen to the mandate the British public handed them on the 23rd of June 2016. On that day, more Brits voted to cease membership of the somewhat constraining EU than for anything else in the kingdom’s democratic history. Majorities in over 400 out of 656 voting constituencies chose leave in the referendum compared to 480 parliamentarians choosing to remain. Hardly representative. Their answer why? Citizens didn’t know what they were doing. Idiots, racists or merely easily led sheep. In their minds’ it is not the place of the representative to listen, but to again dictate and explain to the people why they are wrong. Soubry herself couldn’t have demonstrated this better on live TV , rabidly and revealingly trying to slap down Piers Morgan’s point in conversation by informing him she was an ‘elected politician’.
The same member of parliament who labelled her extensive opposition in a Hillary Clinton-esque manner as ‘fascists’ and ‘racists’ unashamedly fabricated outcry after being heckled in the streets of London as a ‘Nazi’. She soon called for greater policing on ‘abuse’ and clamps down on free speech. Two blindingly obvious issues lie here. Things I very much doubt Soubry herself ever took the time to reflect upon — the first that if you are going to unleash dirty polarised discourse into the fray, at least don’t be surprised when it returns to bite you. The second is that it should astound many — and act as an alarming indicator of the delusions that exist — that a politician who believes their decision making and vision is sound and impeccable enough to impose upon 64 million citizens, is surprised by dissent. But this is where the problem lies.
‘Representatives’ believing their divine judgement lies above that of the people and they are only to dictate, lead and lecture rather than to listen, obey and represent. This, by definition, is contrary to the very ideal of democracy.
In the US, Chuck and Nancy can be seen rather discourteously staring down the teleprompter, defiantly insisting their virtuous principles to the spectating masses. Look closely. Politics has become for elected individuals to declare and lecture on what is and what should be rather than listen to or consider what the people think.
The mechanism of election to office does not manufacture impeccable judgement or ethical code. It does not make you an emperor, nor deity. The desperation of the politician to prove unquestionable moral righteousness and perfect integrity becomes tiresome and unbelievable. After crisis and failure, every time proclaiming why, in this case they were faultless in action and it was, in fact, their opponent who was at fault. It should be observed by many that neither side accepts accountability for their part in the recent US government shutdown and entirely blames the other. They cannot both be right. Until now has ‘representative’ democracy not been a perfectly functional form of government? Will it endure? Any knowledge of history would underline the naivety of belief in stability.
Security is never permanent. One must consider aristocratic feudalism was once successful in France and Europe. It had been for centuries, yet, it only took the events of elites pulling away from the mob, unconcerned with them and thus angering them over the course of a few years to overturn the total order of society forever.
Long standing corruption in Brazil sure caused the population to turn to an outsider. In the US, the continuity candidate lost big to the epitome of an institutional outsider. The trend shows us populism is on the rise, elitism is collapsing.
Maybe, the antidote lies in elected politicians, just for a moment, not regarding themselves as deities.