Friday, July 22, 2011

The debt crisis and democracy

I often find it hard to explain my own near-obsession with populism, the dangers of active citizens and the need to strengthen representative democracy at the expense of pressure-group politics.

Is this really such a huge issue, or is it just some odd bit of political perfectionism? Tim Garton-Ash seems to be on my side of the argument here - arguing that this democratic decadence could have disastrous consequences for everyone living in a western liberal democracy.

Do read the whole thing, but these two snippets stand out:
"What we see today on both sides of the Atlantic is a perversion of democracy. It consists in giving vocal sections of the people what they want in the short term rather than proposing to most of the people what they need in the longer term – and taking the risk of short-term unpopularity along the way, as all good leaders have done."
... and..
"This is a politics that is hyper-responsive to money, special interests, media campaigns, pressure groups, focus groups and the latest opinion poll or sub-national election. It's no accident that Washington and Brussels compete for the title of lobbyist's paradise. It turns out that what both these huge, sprawling polities, the EU and the US, do better than anything else is the aggregation of particular interests – and the appeasement of as many of them as can be appeased at any one time."
The only huge point that he neglected to make in that article was about how the banking crisis itself can largely be explained by the way that these commercial pressure groups cued parliaments up to be incapable of regulating them in the first place.

What with the rest of the world being converted to the Murdoch-root-of-all-evil position, I'm feeling as smug as you can when you're being po-faced at the same time. I think I'll take the rest of the month off on the strength of being proved right about everything ;-)

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