Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The principles of British foreign policy and the corruption of democratic government

Based on the study of classified government documents released to the public under the 30-year rule, British historian Mark Curtis has shown that the formulation and presentation of British foreign policy is based on a total contempt for the intelligence of the public. Such contempt is evident in the glaring gap between state realpolitik, as manifest in the open and frank discussion of real goals in secret government documents, and the government's claim to benevolence in foreign policy objectives, e.g., to prevent, Saddam Hussein, Col. Quadhafi, whoever, from killing their own people, infecting everyone in the Christian West with anthrax and the plague bacillus, or simply being the new Hitler.

Through the general application of this principle of government, democracy has become a soft dictatorship. Coercion is rarely necessary because the entire public political discourse is a fantasy in which sound bites and video clips are woven into a public relations story that leaves no room to doubt that our leaders offer the nearest that can be attained to the practical application of those principles of our Saviour, Jesus Christ the Lord, as enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount.

But if a serious threat arises to the management of public perception, the Government PR machine and its collaborators in the corporate-controlled media readily put a gloss on the necessity of an occasional assassination, rendition and torture or denial of habeus corpus.

In it's earliest incarnation, the Parliamentary system that England invented and which was adopted by the majority of British Commonwealth nations, provided for regional representation of the middle-class interests, i.e., the lesser landowners and bourgeoisie, with an upper house representing England's 17th Century plutocracy, i.e., the landed aristocracy. In that form, Parliament provided a check on the executive branch of government by the best informed and wealthiest elements in society, thereby ensuring social stability.

The emergence of mass democracy, beginning with the British Reform Bill of 1832, in theory transferred power from a well to do, well informed and well connected minority to the mass of ordinary citizens. But the actual transfer of power was long delayed because the upper and middle classes were able to dominate parliament even as they became dependent on the votes of ordinary folk. This was possible because of the deferential attitude of the British people who until well into the twentieth century seemed happy to be represented in Parliament by their presumed betters, just so long as their betters paid occasional lip-service to the interests of the working class, and threw them the occasional sop: a contributory old-age pension, or some slight improvement in workplace health and safety standards, etc.

By the end of the twentieth century, however, the masses were no longer content to be represented in government by those who may formerly have been seen as their betters but who were now more likely viewed as decadent members of an unfairly privileged class. Increasingly, the common man came to see himself not as a pleb but as part of a great reservoir of untapped talent deserving the best in education and the greatest scope for white collar employment. The notion that all men are born equal was now regarded as a reality, or insofar as reality fell short of that notion, reality it was held, must be made to conform to the principle through programmes of remedial education, affirmative action and welfare on demand.

But this change of view did not reflect a redistribution of real power as manifest by beauty, brains, knowledge, money and connections. In part, the ruling elite, whether of the nominal left or right, avoided the necessity of giving way to the common man by adjusting their accents, their publicly avowed sentiments and their mode of dress to suit their audience, dropping their aitches, but in such a discreet and nice way that even a true Tory could hardly object.

But the basic problem of reconciling the wishes of the masses with the interests of the people of wealth, position, and knowledge was the creation of a pseudodemocracy. Elected representatives no longer represent regional interests. Instead, anyone seeking election as a member of one of the prospective ruling parties had to be approved not only by the local party association, but also by party headquarters, and once elected they were required to follow the party line or be expelled from caucus and all prospect of future election. Party headquarters, in turn, became subordinate to the interests of arms dealers, drug makers foreign powers and any other entity that provided election funding or had influence over the news, publishing and entertainment industries.

A similar system of subordinating representatives to the ruling interests exists in all mass democracies although the mechanisms vary. Thus, the representatives serve a function that is the exact opposite of what is supposed. Rather than represent to the government the interests of the people, they represent to the people the interests of the government, which in turn represents the interests of the various entities, including pressure groups, corporations and foreign powers that fund elections, own newspapers, pay bribes and otherwise dictate policy.

We thus have, perhaps, the worst form of government, including all the others that have been tried from time to time: it is unelected, largely invisible, and entirely unaccountable.

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