Sunday, 13 November 2016

Threads


I was reminded of this thread from Jack of Kent on Wednesday, looking at the front pages in Sainsbury's as they got all excited about the white supremacist sex pest president-elect's promise of a juicy new trade deal for Britain post-Brexit. "See?" was the gist. The problem is - as this thread illustrates - no deal with Trump is worth the paper it's written on. It's tough enough getting him to cough up when has an army of lawyers, what chance will we have when he has an army of everything else? And let's not pretend we haven't been here before. Godwin's law can do one - Churchill's law states you're fucked signing deals with a con man. So what's the alternative? On its own Britain is completely at this swollen clown's mercy - here's what "taking back control" looks like. We've never needed to be in the EU more than we have now. So we can't let Brexit happen, sorry. And we can't do business with Trump. And we can't let Trump/Pence happen, sorry again. How can we stop it? I've no idea. Let's sign a thing. At least put out the house-fire before worrying about the rot.

from the beautiful and prescient National Office of Importance

I want to stop Trump and Pence, then. And I want to stop Brexit. So am I completely against democracy? Well, what is democracy? It's full enfranchisement, not the dictatorship of the majority. Referenda are barmy - you can't vote for a single issue without voting for its baggage. I often think about the end of this, posted by Michael Regnier back in July:
At one level, what is more democratic than the country voting on a simple choice between two courses of action? The majority wins, of course, every time.
There is another manifestation of democracy, however, which is not about winning majorities, but acknowledging, supporting, even protecting, minorities. Human rights, freedom of movement, tolerance and compassion – simple, decent humanity.
It was 2005 when I realised this other idea of democracy existed – I was studying for a Masters degree, and a far-right demagogue was doing well in Austrian politics. One of my professors started a discussion with us about what should happen if they won power in Austria. My opinion was that if you believe in democracy, you have to accept the will of the people, even if you hate what they’ve voted for, even if they’ve voted away their democratic rights. The liberal academic’s view was that democracy exists not so much in votes but in the much broader set of rights given to people to live their lives the way they want to, and that a far-right government would undermine that and undermine democracy, so something radical had to be done to prevent this outcome, even if it was the popular choice.
So while going against the popular vote from the referendum would be, by definition, undemocratic, I think it might also be the most democratic thing we could do. Because democracy is for the losers as much as – if not more than – the winners.
Sorry there aren't more jokes. I just thought those two things were worth bearing in mind. Hey, remember when I said the centre ground was moving to the left? Ahahahahaha. And now, let's sing:

 

2 comments:

  1. The first thing I thought when I realised Trump was probably going to win was, this is Brexit all over again. You know that feeling, when you hope for the best (it stands to reason that people wouldn’t actively choose to do the equivalent of jumping off a cliff – or does it?) but deep down you expect the worst outcome of all, because that’s how these things usually work.

    All it takes is for someone to promise to make the country ‘great again’, apparently. By which they mean sending those pesky immigrants back home, because it’s easier to put the blame for economical crisis on foreigners rather than seek out an actual solution to the problem.

    And even if there was a remote chance that either Trump or Brexit turn out to be not as bad as we might expect – though this is nothing but wishful thinking, I’m afraid – that wouldn’t change the fact that the damage is done already. The men and women in the street now feel entitled to attack everyone who’s different, safe in the knowledge that the winning majority is behind them all the way. Or that most of them are, at the very least, and that’s good enough for racists and haters.

    That’s probably the scariest thing of all, realising that so many people are perfectly okay with harassing their fellow human beings just because of the colour of their skin, their nationality, religion, gender or sexual orientation. That such a thing is becoming the norm rather than something people should feel ashamed of.

    I too wish there was something we could do to stop both Brexit and Trump. (And more specifically, to stop Brexit *because* of Trump. If there ever was a point in time when the EU needs to stay together, that’s the troubled times we are living right now.) In a way it’s kind of a relief to know that both things are theoretically possible, though I fear there’s very little chance of either country getting away with what would be perceived as ‘going against democracy’. Even more so now that both the EU referendum and the US election have turned into some sort of divide between people who voted one way, and people who voted the other – which means that no matter what happens half of the population is going to be decidedly unhappy about the outcome, and more than a little inclined to blame it on the other half.

    That being said, I’m afraid there’s nothing much we can do except maybe try and be a safe space for people who need it the most, and hope for the best.

    (And given that I don’t think I could afford to build a bunker to live in for the next four years or so, I’m just going to hold on to all the little things that make me happy, and wait for the bomb to drop. Hopefully it won’t. In the meantime, thank goodness for the new series of The Monster Hunters, and the upcoming series of JFSP. If there’s one thing that can save the world, that’s laughter. Beauty is overrated. Bless those excellent human beings who can still put a smile on your face even in times of darkness.)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! We will all do what we can. Be well.

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