Posted by Dave Hasney
I’m not one of those stereotypical political animals, I prefer a quiet life, without the stress, although some might tend to disagree. Especially if they’ve come across any of my older blog posts. Neither could you call me an ‘activist’ of any sort however; like most people, I do have an opinion on many things in our society.
Even more so when it happens to be socially or individually unjust, or it’s something that’s just so plainly wrong, from an ethical or moral stance.
That said, like so many others in the UK and elsewhere today, I’m pretty sick and tired of politicians so, from that perspective alone, yes, perhaps I am political… but only with a small ‘p’.
I’m also at that age (and size) where my vital organs probably aren’t strong enough not to go pop, when my blood pressure soars skywards. I never have been an angry person, anger is such a futile and pointless emotion but, possibly for desires of longevity, I prefer enjoying the humorous and satirical aspects of politics.
Because I use social media on a regular basis, and I’m all about the advocacy of social connection, promoting the values of an inclusive diverse society with a community spirit, it would be a tad unnatural for me not to get a little warm under the collar sometimes. There are so many issues currently impacting on our society, most of them with negative outcomes and consequences.
Hashtags like #Addictions – #NHS – #Veterans – #Homeless – #KnifeCrime – #PrisonReform are almost guaranteed to push my buttons and invoke angst at some level of personal outrage. Oh yes, and #Brexit ??? What an absolute crock of feckin’ shite that is… and mostly because of politics and politicians… but don’t get me started.
In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. George Orwell
You see when you’re concerned about others, as opposed to yourself and the objectivity of our society and social well-being, rather than being driven by subjective thoughts concerning your own microcosm, you can’t help but be impacted by politics. Or, at the very least, the underlying philosophy (and irony) of much in politics, amongst politicians and the political structures.
When you choose to observe the systems with a cynical eye, searching for the humour and satire, you better be confident about personal powers of stoicism!
Those hashtags (above) didn’t specifically start out as politically motivated campaigns, they were concerns about issues that (subjectively) weren’t being managed correctly. As opposed to there being a specific political direction from the outset… or perhaps there is or was? And if so, did that direction come from an individual or social perspective? Is it part of the fictional dystopian master-plan, contrived by individuals with a desire to rule over others as the master-race? Or perhaps it’s some form of contrived philosophical imagination prepared by conspiracy theorists.
Man is by nature a political animal. (Aristotle)
At the risk of musing on Aristotle’s Protrepticus; much of our political philosophy finds its origins within the ideas of ancient Greece. Most of that political philosophy goes back as far as Plato. Additionally, most views of a utopian or dystopian state, accepted or contested, are genres of speculative fiction, models that are constructed to explore social and political structures. But even democracy, that political nirvana for so many, might not actually be as good as people think it is.
Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty. (Plato)
Ancient Greece was dominated by city-states that experimented with various forms of political organisation. Interestingly, these political systems were grouped into five categories of descending stability and morality by Plato: monarchy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. Read into that what you will.
Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms. (Aristotle)
The issues I refereed to (above) have become ‘problems’ with important political messages. But they’re also being discussed (at arms length) from a political perspective, as opposed to having much humanitarian context. Often with self-interest and political motivations to the forefront and with little evidence of any objective reasoning.
Democracy: a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike. (Plato)
Many on the lower rungs of our societal-economic hierarchical ladder can agree, from objective and subjective viewpoints that; incorrect political strategy, poor political policies and even lack-lustre management, all of which perhaps found root in austerity measures, have again (subjectively) developed into proverbial political hot potatoes for so many.
Whilst politicians continue to kick these warm tubers around parliamentary halls, what of the human impacts in their constituencies? Are they actually aware? Do they really give a damn or, as we witness with monotonous regularity; have we simply arrived at a point where politicians are so far removed from the realities of the society they represent, that it’s impossible for them to actually deliver what our society wants anymore? Assuming they ever did?
But democracy is supposed to deliver benefits for everyone, isn’t it? As is often the case with political theory, application and outcomes mostly depend upon who;s managing the process. Remember Benito Mussolini, the infamous Italian fascist leader of WWII who said; “Democracy is beautiful in theory but in practice it is a fallacy” …as he established his dictatorship! Meanwhile, at the polar opposite of political opinion and philosophy, Karl Marx suggested that “Democracy is the road to socialism” surely they can’t both be right, can they?
To be fair, much of his theoretical socialism actually makes sense but, like a great deal of theoretical hypothesis, it tends to fall apart once you introduce the human factor to equations. Marx did go on to point out that “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce” and he’s correct. Sadly and too often, we forget the past or actually know little about it and consequently, make a hash of things all over again.
It’s increasingly apparent that many of our political leaders aren’t actually delivering what we want. The electorate isn’t getting what they thought they voted for, rightly or wrongly, cue the ongoing #Brexit debacle, again!
Those who think that politicians aren’t delivering what society wants aren’t really ‘new’ thinkers, it’s actually an age-old concept. Especially when the political ‘brand’ currently in power doesn’t fit your individual political beliefs or ideology. But this now more common thought process is also stoking the fires of unexpected consequences.
We’re moving away from traditional two party (or tripartite) political systems. This change to tour political makeup in the UK, as elsewhere in modern-day systems of democratic government across the Western world, is sadly delivering unforeseen or unexpected consequence. Add the substantial smattering of lies and strategic mistakes made by our politicians and you know there’s a serious problem. Who knows, maybe they all went to the French school of politics?
In politics… never retreat, never retract… never admit a mistake. (Napoleon Bonaparte)
But this exponential growth of populist politics, particularly across Europe, is also creating increasing numbers of politicians with strongly polarising (and sadly extremist) viewpoints. We are building political parties with divisive politicians who’s rhetoric is fuelling extreme political polarity and a divided society. I could never be seen as an apologetic liberal however, I’ve always believed that some middle-ground politics are usually the most effective for the largest number of people.
But could ‘democracy’ actually be the problem? After all, it is the democratic process that allows the election of all these firebrands of social division. Our society is voting for them, we’re electing them so perhaps they’re actually delivering what we want?
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. (Winston Churchill)
Assuming that politicians really do work for us, which is something of a moot point for many, who is holding them to account for their failings? We all should be and today, with the internet and social-media communications in our connected world, it’s far easier than ever before. I wonder how Guy Fawkes and his followers would have fared on Twitter? Unlike too many after them, at least they had honest intentions when they entered Parliament.
We can all be better informed about politics, irrespective of any mischievous social-engineering that is carried out by the media. We can also escape the fake news with a little bit of effort, and some applied intelligence. The big problem is, most of us are too engrossed in our own problems, often we’re just too busy or simply can’t be bothered… other than to shout at our screens before bashing out an angry meme or two, once in a while.
But even the latter, especially amongst those impacted by Acquired Situational Narcissism, elevated public prominence and celebrity status (whatever currently constitutes ‘celebrity’), is usually more about marketing and self-promotion. As opposed to any genuine concern for others, let alone the negative impacts of poor political leadership engulfing our society…. Piers Morgan, Katie Hopkins et al spring to mind.
You shouldn’t have to be an expert to understand what goes on in parliament. Your politicians are supposed to represent you… but what exactly do they do in your name? Why not take a look and find out? You might be surprised but it’s more likely, to find out it’s even more disappointing than you expected it would be!
TheyWorkForYou takes open data from the UK Parliament, and presents it in a way that’s easy to follow – for everyone. You can check, with just a few clicks – are they really working for you? This parliamentary monitoring website is maintained by mySociety. The site aims to make it easier for UK citizens to understand what is going on in Westminster, as well as the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly. Find out more about TheyWorkForYou.
All said, acceptance, a bloody good dose of stoicism and a mug of tea usually cures most problems!
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