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May 09, 2013

Mayor of London: England's Departure from EU Would be "Shot in the Arm" for Democracy

Even this guy gets it, and he's British.*

Note he doesn't just get the conclusion -- he gets the underlying principle as well. Democracy is about people having control over their political fates. The more remote actual political power is made from the people, the more convoluted the pathway between citizen wish and government action, the less democratic a state is, and the less empower the citizen.

The public would welcome a British exit because people would feel they had won back control over their own lives from Brussels, the Mayor claimed.

"If we are honest, I think, democratically, it would be a shot in the arm because people would suddenly feel, yes, we are running our own destiny again, our politics is entirely independent, British electors can choose the people who are taking decisions that affect their lives.

"That would be a very important benefit."

Government never admits its real agenda. I don't mean this conspiratorially, though I suppose it reads that way. But every institution has its Stated Mission and its Real Mission. Teachers unions speak forever about their Stated Mission, to educate the young; they never announce their Real Mission, which is ever-escalating salaries, even for -- especially for -- its worst performing teachers, who are, due to their very incompetence at their jobs and their utter reliance on the union for their daily bread, the union's strongest supporters and shock troops.

The Real Mission of any government, democratic or tyrannical, is to insulate itself from the "whims of the public."

Every person, every institution, seeks autonomy, freedom of action, freedom to pursue his or its own wishes. Every single one. Politicians will say they love getting input from voters; they are lying. What they wish is to do as they please without having to answer to anyone about it.

This isn't really a "bad" impulse, as every person, every person who's ever breathed air, wishes to have maximum freedom of action and minimum responsibility to others, minimum restriction on freedom of action. This is why we praise people -- like parents -- who undertake the vital mission of putting the needs of others ahead of their own.

Because it's hard. Because every parent is giving up a little of himself in order to give his child life and instruction. Every parent is choosing to make himself responsible to his child -- a very heavy responsibility.

But people do have the feeling that they'd like to be free of obligations and utterly free to do exactly as they will. We envy Silicon Valley millionaires who retire at age 36, not because they are now living lives of sloth, but because they have attained a significant amount of personal freedom. They've made enough money to be free of the requirement of working for a living. They can work -- as it pleases them, as it interests them. But they are shorn of the obligation to work.

One would have to be an idiot, or a leftist (but I repeat myself), to imagine a government made up of human beings, each of whom privately wishes to have maximum power, maximum freedom of action, and minimum oversight, minimum responsibility to others, would somehow fail to gain this aspect of its constituent members.

If you collect up a thousand balls, each of which is more or less red, you know what you have? A big pile of red balls. The collection reflects the aspects of its individual constituents.

The secret mission of all government is to become free of the "whims of the people," to become self-empowered, to become self-willed, to become, itself, free.

And that we can never permit. For citizens to be free, the government must be a slave.

Every attempt by the government to escape the shackles of responsibility to its citizens must be firmly repelled and rebuked. The yoke should be tightened, not loosened.

The EU is a massive effort at making the government as remote and insulated from the people it ostensibly serves. It has worked misery already; it will work greater miseries. Because it must.

A government which does not answer to its people answers only to itself.

Like I said, this idiot gets it, and he's a British mayor of a left-leaning city in a country which has long ago given up its vitality and heart in exchange for the shabby promises of socialism.

What is it about this simple principle that so eludes the American political left?

* Correction regarding a mistake I never made: I have to say, I wrote this piece, in draft, stating that this mayor was "left-wing." I was thinking of Ken Livingston, even though this is Boris Johnson. But I guessed Johnson must be as left-wing as Livingston; if a city elects one left-winger, it's probably going to keep doing so.

But I checked, and he's actually a conservative.

But he's still British, and a British conservative is just a guy who wants some fox-hunting along with his socialism.

And yet, he still gets it: People feel empowered when they feel they are actually adult free citizens, in charge of their own political destinies.

I have a theory that political responsibility goes hand in hand with personal responsibility: Treat people as responsible free citizens as a political matter, and they will also tend to behave responsibly in their personal lives.

And the opposite is true as well: Treat them as children politically, and they will tend to behave as children personally.

Just a theory. But one can't look at the decline of American Democracy and fail to notice that the most free and politically-responsible people seemed to be the most personally-responsible and mature-behaving people as well.

And one can't help but look at the basket-cases of the world, where the public has been politically infantilized, without noticing that the people behave in a juvenile or even infantile manner in their personal lives as well.

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posted by Ace at 01:14 PM

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