Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Four views on democracy

Andrew P. Napolitano: What If Democracy Is Bunk?

What if you are only allowed to vote because it doesn't make a difference? What if no matter how you vote, the elites get to have it their way? What if "one person, one vote" is just a fiction created by the government to induce your compliance? What if democracy is dangerous to personal freedom? What if democracy erodes the people's understanding of natural rights and the foundations of government, and instead turns elections into beauty contests?

What if democracy allows the government to do anything it wants ...

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Peter Hitchens: If not Putin, Who?
I like Vladimir Putin. I wish I did not. But I cannot help it. I know that by saying so, I will trigger the lofty wrath of the right-thinking lobby which wants to portray modern Russia as the Evil Empire in a new Cold War.

In that war, which they are trying so hard to start, they will see me as a traitor. But it is exactly because I love my own country that I can see the point of Mr Putin.

He stands – as no other major leader does in the world today – for the rights of nations to decide their own business inside their own borders.

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Winston Churchill: Speaking on the Parliament Bill, the House of Commons November 11, 1947

... No Government in time of peace has ever had such arbitrary power over the lives and actions of the British people, and no Government has ever failed more completely to meet their daily practical needs. Yet the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues are avid for more power. No Government has ever combined so passionate a lust for power with such incurable impotence in its exercise. The whole history of this country shows a British instinct—and, I think I may say, a genius—for the division of power. The American Constitution, with its checks and counterchecks, combined with its frequent appeals to the people, embodied much of the ancient wisdom of this island. Of course, there must be proper executive power to any Government, but our British, our English idea, in a special sense, has always been a system of balanced rights and divided authority, with many other persons and organised bodies having to be considered besides the Government of the day and the officials they employ. This essential British wisdom is expressed in many foreign Constitutions which followed our Parliamentary system, outside the totalitarian zone, but never was it so necessary as in a country which has no written Constitution.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke about Parliament, about the rights of Parliament, which I shall certainly not fail to defend. But it is not Parliament that should rule; it is the people who should rule through Parliament. That is the mistake he made, an important omission. All this was comprehended by those who shaped the Parliament Act and the settlement which developed upon that Act, so that it was never mentioned again for 36 years until now. That is what the Government are seeking to mutilate, if not to destroy. The object of the Parliament Act, and the spirit of that Act, were to give effect, not to spasmodic emotions of the electorate, but to the settled, persistent will of the people. What they wanted to do they could do, and what they did not want to do they could stop. All this idea of a handful of men getting hold of the State machine, having the right to make the people do what suits their party and personal interests or doctrines, is completely contrary to every conception of surviving Western democracy. "Some reverence for the laws ourselves have made," "Some patient force to change them when we will." We accept in the fullest sense of the word the settled and persistent will of the people. All this idea of a group of super men and super-planners, such as we see before us, "playing the angel," as the French call it, and making the masses of the people do what they think is good for them, without any check or correction, is a violation of democracy. Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters.

I remember, many years ago, the late John Morley talking to me about a Greek word, born in the classical cradle of democracy, meaning the wish, the will, and the determination, with special reference to the gods, or to destiny, or, as it was adapted, to the desire of the mass, the inward desire of the mass of the people. This implied, that there should be frequent recurrence, direct or indirect, to the popular will, and that the wish—the —should prevail. That is what the party opposite is afraid of, and that is what this Act is devised to prevent. ...

... all these constitutions have the same object in view, namely, that the persistent resolve of the people shall prevail without throwing the community into convulsion and disorder by rash or violent, irreparable action and to restrain and prevent a group or sect or faction assuming dictatorial power. Single-Chamber Government, as I have said, is especially dangerous in a country which has no written Constitution and where Parliaments are elected for as long as five years. When there is an ancient community built up across the generations, "Where Freedom broadens slowly down From precedent to precedent"," it is not right that all should be liable to be swept away by the desperate measures of a small set of discredited men. "A thousand years scarce serve to form a State." "An hour may lay it in dust." This is the argument against Second-Chamber Government, which is evidently so espoused on that side of the House. In this field the outlook of His Majesty's Ministers is marked by the same meanness of thought and spirit which characterise so much of their action and which destroys their power to help or unite and save our suffering country. They wish to keep the present Second Chamber on the hereditary basis so that they can abuse it, insult it and attack it and yet to cripple its powers, although those powers stand on 36 years of modern Parliamentary title so that, in effect, it is both vulnerable and powerless. That is their tactical method. By this artful, and insincere scheme they hope to substitute for the will of the people the decisions of the Government. This sinister intrigue will be exposed by us, without fear, to the electorate resting upon a universal suffrage. ...

Look around at what is happening every day. The idea of a mandate is only a convention. A band of men who have got hold of the machine and have a Parliamentary majority undoubtedly have the power to propose anything they choose without the slightest regard to whether the people like it or not, or the slightest reference to whether or not it was included in their election literature. I will not expatiate upon the kind of laws they could pass if all is to be settled by a party majority in the House of Commons, under the discipline of the Whips and the caucus. But anyone can see for himself, and it is now frankly admitted on the opposite side of the House, that what is aimed at now is single-Chamber Government at the dictation of Ministers, without regard to the wishes of the people and without giving them any chance to express their opinion. There is, in fact, only one thing that they cannot do under the Parliament Act, 1911, and that is to prolong the life of Parliament beyond the five years' span to which we reduced it in those old days. I must say I am very glad we thought of it.

As a free-born Englishman, what I hate is the sense of being at anybody's mercy or in anybody's power, be he Hitler or Attlee. We are approaching very near to dictatorship in this country, dictatorship that is to say—I will be quite candid with the House—without either its criminality or its efficiency. But let the party opposite not imagine they will rule our famous land and lead our group of Commonwealths and our Empire—or what is left of it—by party dodges and Cabinet intrigues. Lots of people have tried to break the British nation and make it do things it did not want to do. Some were British and some were foreign. They all came a cropper. Do not imagine, I say to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that you have got this country in pawn. The British are a proud people and, more than any other country in Europe, they have known how to control their rulers. You are our rulers now and we are going to show you that there are limits to your control. ...

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CanSpeccy: The Only Real Breach of the British Constitution

The only real breach of the British Constitution, Lord Salisbury believed, occurs if the government does something of which the great majority of the population strongly disapproves.

For decades, successive British governments have been doing something of which the great majority of the British population strongly disapproves:

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  1. Unfortunately it seems that both Churchill and we, the people of Britain, failed miserably to prevent this 'group of super men and super-planners ... 'playing the angel' ... and making the masses of the people do what they think is good for them, without any check or correction, is a violation of democracy. Indeed that very state of affairs is now seen to be normal. It remains to be seen if this sorry (and dangerous) state of affairs can be halted and reversed.

    1. In the past, governments not subborned by foreign gold spoke for the nation. That's what democracy was about, doing what benefited one's own people, not what benefited multinational corporations or people arriving uninvited from faraway countries.

      For a national government to hand legislative power to unelected bodies such as the UN or the EU, or to pretend an inability to control its own borders from a mass influx of settlers from throughout the World, would have been called, what it is, treason.

      But today, in Europe, to advocate such a nationalist view of democracy is to be howled down as a xenophobe, a racist or a far-right-wing extremist.

      How is it that the elites have betrayed the people?

      Because there is no longer an elite of aristocrats and old money that believes in the traditions and values of the nation and believes that it has a responsibility for the welfare of the people. The holders of such old-fashioned views have been pushed aside by puppets funded with corporate cash and groomed and guided by the intelligence services.

      Compare a Parliamentary speech by Thomas Macaulay, William Gladstone, Winston Churchill or Lloyd George with the best that a Tony Blair or a David Cameron is able to compose without aid of a speech writer, and you see that there has been a transformation not only in thinking but in the mental capacity of the visible leadership. That is because the Blair's and Cameron's are mere mouthpieces under the control of hidden forces.

      Ron Paul is using the Internet to attempt an end run around the controlled media and the corporate controlled political parties. But the attempt will almost certainly be in vain, and should it appear likely to succeed, the usual solution, a bullet, will be applied.

      But prove me wrong, someone. I'd welcome it.