Friday, January 02, 2009

"The age of depoliticised power will come to a thudding end"

Hidden among the predictions for 2009 in the Guardian a few days ago (I've only just got around to posting on this - sorry) was an unexpected gem. And what a gem it was too.

I don't know if it is really a prediction or wishful thinking. I hope it is the former.

I know that it's bad form (not to say actionable) to cut-and-paste a whole article (even a short one) and I hate not being able to quote Julian Glover in full, because it's the first time I've read a commentator in the mainstream media saying exactly what I've been hoping for one of them to say.

So, getting as much of it in as I can reasonably fit into a 'fair use' approach, here it is.
The age of depoliticised power will come to a thudding end
Next year will see the apex and decline of democracy's fashionable deference to independent expertise. Politics will take control to overcome crisis. The depoliticisation of power ....when decisions were devolved to selected groups and reviews, and above all lawyers .....the only purpose of which is to proscribe the freedom of politicians. It was the miserable consequence of a political culture so cynical it dared not trust itself.

....the independent Bank of England, now frustrating politicians, who find they have the right to hector, but not decide. The need for decisiveness - to spend or to cut - means the lumbering luxury of state independence will go. ....The public sector will hate this. But democracy will win through.

The whole quote is nearly half-way down this page. Read the whole thing. The cult of independence and impartiality - in the media, among market fetishists, in the way that politicians are regulated and circumscribed by litigious pressure groups, by journalists who prefer their adversaries to be suppine, by bureaucrats who prefer permanent managerialism, by the Edwardian establishment throwbacks to sit on six figure Quango salaries- is a curse on this country that has similar consequences to our political life that book-burning would have to our wider intellectual culture.

Either way, Julian Glover has quite restored my rosy view of human nature. For me, it almost has a touch of Orwell's line from The Lion and the Unicorn:
"Churchill, who was at any rate able to grasp that wars are not won without fighting. Later, perhaps, they will pick another leader who can grasp that only Socialist nations can fight effectively."
I'd adapt that to a more general defence of social democracy in an economic crisis:
Only a truly representative democracy can address the causes of a modern crisis.

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