May 25, 2005

End of history my arse

My first blog entry has been inspired by an irration of people chastising me for not spoiling my ballot paper. I didn't vote. In fact I didn't even make an effort to make my way to a nearby polling station. 'People died for the right to vote you know?' Yes they did and bravo to them, at the time democracy was the best option open to them, but now we face an altogether different challenge. Whether we'd like to admit it, we've entered a post-democratic age, one whereby the dominant parties stand next to each other on most, if not all, major issues and seek to appease swing voters with issues that most of us couldn't give a rats arse about.

This means that if we accept the existing system then nothing of long term significance ever gets changed. Both parties seek to appeal to a minority of undecided voters in some kind of pseudo-marketing activity. That means we get both parties campaigning on 'We hate immigrant terrorists.' Brilliant. Well done, so do I, you get my vote.

Not only that, but the major influence on party policy comes from corporate entities whose aims aren't "the greater good" but chasing the good ol' yankee dollar. Good luck to them, thats what most of us would do given the existing situation. After all, money is power, but lets not pretend that this is the pinnacle of human endeavour. Its not 'the end of history' as messrs Fukuyama et al would like to claim.

In my opinion, the existing system will inevitably collapse as long term problems such as global warming barely get addressed, let alone challenged. For example, airplane flights are one of the principle causes of pollution and thus global warming, and one of the best ways to address this issue would be to cut tax breaks to airlines which would in turn end low cost air travel. Of course, this doesn't appeal to us cos we like our cheap Easten European excursions. Even Tony Blair has argued, no politician in his right mind would campaign on such a platform despite the fact that it would undoubtedly serve "the greater good" in the long run.

So what other options are open to us? Communism? The word gulag springs to mind. Islamic governance? Lets not pretend any religion provides us with some 'perfect' set of guidelines with which to order human society. God slipped up big time there. So what are we left with? Well, not much really. Democracy remains the best system of governance that humans have managed to come up with, but when Aristotle claimed that democracy was merely mob rule, he wasn't far wrong. Lets face it, we haven't come up with a way to curb human selfishness and greed. Democracy merely attempts to transfer that selfishness and greed onto a collective rather than personal level and has achieved marginal success at that.


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