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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Parliamentary Democracy and Violence

If we want to know why violence infects our streets and crime is no longer a badge of shame look to the Knesset (and while it may be an extreme case, it is hardly unique in its abuse of the ideal of parliamentary democracy).

Jobs are scarce and insecure and prospects governed by mutually narcissistic ambition that protects the lazy and the dishonest while it brutalises the rest of us.  Our society has given us the tools, the ability to think but has filled the ether with the violent demands of those who would tell us how and when to think and that attacks us and tries to deprive us of our freedom when we refuse to listen to their view only.

Our contemporary offering to the gods is not a vision for a peaceful future but a drunken revelry and an act of mindless devotion.  We live in polarised societies with no direction. We live in societies that move at a pace that discounts the value in human relationships.  We too often speak without honour and to hell with the consequences.   And finally, because society has no faith in itself we are unable to pierce the boil of our own frustrations so we drown our concerns in taking extremist positions or in mindless devotion to practicing the art of glitzy superficiality and serene oblivion.

If our parliamentary system has failed to offer a coherent response to the challenges within our society then it can come as no surprise that radicalism is on the march again; that fanatics are in the ascendant with growing legions of followers who have despaired with the mainstream of society.  So the challenge is first how, to get the extremists to acculturate to the Western way of thinking and second to ask the question, why should they bother listening to us when we are unable to explain why our direction is better than theirs? If the rhetoric of hate appears able to solve the problems of society what does it matter to the majority, if the minority is silenced for the overall good?

Yaron London, in a recent Op-ed said the following: “The clash between zealotry and scepticism is the root of the dispute among us” He was referring to Israeli society but he could as easily have been referring to any society not under the thumb of dictatorship.

When power becomes an end in itself, parliamentary democracy becomes a sham, no more than a cynical exercise in corruption for the mutual benefit of a ruling class.  So the question of why our youth have no respect for authority, why too many of them drink to excess as a matter or normality and why they look to their peer group for support instead of government for guidance is no longer a question that needs an answer.

Simply put, the individual is unimportant.  When governments talk of pain, it is yours, not theirs. When they talk of sacrifice, again, it is yours, to which they refer, not theirs.   When they talk of solutions – it is not with strategic vision but short term electoral advantage. Strategy costs money and is of uncertain and invisible tactical (immediate) advantage.  A coalition enables the uninspired and the unelectable (unless we believe that minority rule is democratic) to endlessly dip their collective snouts in the publics’ purse. Society should be for all the people, following all of the rules.  This is the failure of modern politics.

I will address the Bibi and Shaul Show in my next posting.

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