Szyzygy's Blog

November 14, 2009

Reflections on kleptocracy as a mode of government

Let us disabuse ourselves of the vaguest notion that we live within an ordered and coherent democracy. The depth and sheer quantity of instances of abuses of political power by the existing status quo of all political persuasions represented within Whitehall and its inbred idiot cousin, the Civil Service, long since disqualified the sensible use of the term to approximate reality. If this were the Monty Python sketch about parrots, the customer, in this case the electorate, would have long since realised that the parrot was not merely resting, but that it was, in point of fact, extinct, an ex-parrot, nailed only to the perch by the yellow press and the other apparatus of state ideological process, the media, the judiciary, and all the other ancillary paraphernalia associated with and pertaining to government. But what, I hear you ask, what has Parliament ever done for us? Well there are the roads (in a frankly shocking state of disrepair, for the dubious pleasure of using which which the motorist is taxed to the quick), the scandalous state of the National Health (a drain on the public purse of an extravagance beyond the wildest dreams of any expenses fiddler and almost as broken as the banking system),  and more particularly a war on drugs based more on political opportunism than science and available evidence.  A war on drugs which effectively entails the electorate paying for the prejudices of a few, in which some of the more dangerous (in terms of both social and health risk)  substances are legal and effective cash-cows for the government, while the criminalisation of others of comparative or lesser evil has led to an extent and depth of both  organised and disorganised crime contributory to a society sadly teetering on the verge of several nervous breakdowns.  The recent sacking of Professor Nutt illuminates the nub of the problem; we, as a society, are not only paying for the exercise of the prejudices of a few, but are also subject to a legislative process which is not based on science or evidence but on political expediency and whim. Then of course the government has also given us the expenses scandals. And the Hutton whitewash.  The list is almost endless, a depressing litany of widespread abuses and scandal. None of the parties with representation in parliament, I feel, realise just how hated and despised they are.

Kleptocracy, a reasonable definition of which may be found here  in Wikipedia, goes a long way to explaining this unsatisfactory state of affairs, a state of affairs in which this country is  perilously close to the brink. Given the goverment’s hand in glove relationship with the alcohol industry, one could go a step further and characterise it to an extent as a narcokleptocracy. The government and the opposition aren’t joined up enough in their thinking to see how suspiciously and cynically the electorate, their customer base, now regard them. It is estimated that fewer than 60% of the enfranchised population are likely to vote at the next election; I would say from conversations with people in real life that this is a figure in the wild flights of fantasy – more than 2/3 of the people I have spoken to say there’s just no point in voting, although some of these inevitably will in deeply misguided optimism that their vote might just make a difference to the outcome.  I can’t really disgree with this line of argument and it is hardly suprising; the two parties with enough of a habituated or politically stupid enough percentile of the electorate to vote for them are fundamentally indistinguishable and are both equally prone to kleptocracy on both the grand and petty scale – let’s not forget the arms to Iraq scandal, the perjuries,  etc, etc of the previous junta, but one must hope that a change might make things better, much as experience has taught us time and again that it won’t.

They have gone on with this long enough in the name of democracy; I am of a mind to report the lot of them to the Advertising Standards Agency the next time one of these simpering mendicants has the gall to spout forth on the importance of democracy blah blah blah. Well I would do, but like all regulatory authorities it is firmly in the back pocket of the kleptocracy. The circle is complete. The government not only controls processes of the government it also controls and owns the checks and controls on government. The ballot box cannot in its present implementation save us from these thieves and liars.  It can however hurt them.  It really doesn’t matter who you’re voting for, the government will always get in. So here’s an idea for doing something different next time round. Let’s make their positions a little more tenuous by not voting for sitting candidates. Let’s also send the alleged opposition, otherwise to be referred to hereinafter  as the “kleptocrats in waiting”,  a similar message by not voting for them either.  If there is a viable third party (other of course than the BNP or similar manifestly unsavoury organisations),  a vote for them, by enough people would send a shiver down the back of the kleptocracy. 

What is needed is wholesale political reform on an unparalleled level; the status quo know that voting for this is like turkeys voting for Christmas, and is not something likely to occur unless we as a society make it occur. If we want the better and more equitably governed society that we deserve, and we manifestly can’t go on like this forever, we need to move towards real enfranchisement, real democratic process, and real accountability of all organs of and pertaining to the state. We need to remove from the political vocabulary the concept of a “safe seat”; there should be no such thing for the fairly obvious reason that an unaccountable representative with no fear of his/her electorate is more prone to disregard the wishes of the constituency and the electorate at large than would otherwise be the case.  Once they are sitting uncomfortably, then we can begin.

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