04 September, 2006

A Vote Against Human Nature

I tend not to agree much with my compeers. Many of my views tend to be minority views – sometimes a minority of one, it seems. Take religion, for instance. I regard religion as a kind of insanity (isn’t it insane to believe in things that are not there?) Or consider trades unions. It’s popular these days to consider them a vaguely bad thing. People look back to the 1970s when the unions had some power and seemed to abuse it by ‘holding the country to ransom’ and so on. It doesn’t seem to occur to these people that the big corporations and their owners constantly have our societies in a strangle hold and make all kinds of unreasonable demands all the time. Disruptive, even destructive collective action by working people is really the only way they were able to fight the forces that have always opposed and oppressed them. Doesn’t it seem fair that they too get their chance to wreck society in their own self interest? After all, there are rather more working people than there are fat capitalists.

Anyway, the point is, I don’t have popular views, so the populist, centrist political parties we have these days don’t tend to reflect most of the things I believe in. And there is a State election coming up next weekend. So what do I do?

I suppose, like any other minority, I am disenfranchised by our ‘democratic’ electoral process. Yet I don’t want to spoil my ballot paper or anything like that. I want to have a vote and I want it to mean something. I believe in democracy (in the sense that I think it is the best idea we’ve come up with so far for governing ourselves). Yet democracy doesn’t seem to believe in me.

I suppose it’s one of those ‘human nature’ things. It doesn’t matter how fair a system we try to come up with, the evil power-mongers will always work to pervert it to their own ends. It’s only natural. It’s also inevitable that they will succeed since, by definition, they’re evil and have the power. So the governments we elect will always favour the power-mongers over ordinary people. In fact, they will always favour the power-mongers over everything (human rights, the environment, fairness, etc.) because the power-mongers are funding the system (how many political parties take ‘contributions’ from people and organisations with vested interests?) they are corrupting the system (how many senior politicians end up on the boards of big businesses?) and they are working the system (what kind of background do most senior politicians come from?)

So there is a fat chance that I’ll be able to vote for something honest, decent and just – let alone something that is all that and supports the kind of things I’d like it to. Yet here we are, just six days from the election and I have this precious vote to use. And a vote is something so amazingly precious I can hardly believe my luck in having one. So many people all around the world would lay down their lives to get one of these – or to ensure their children could have one. And here am I and I’ve got one and I’m whingeing about not having enough choice in how to cast it. And these wealth- and power-corrupted governments I’m complaining about must look like the most benign and benevolent of institutions to the billions of people living under crazy war-lords and vicious dictatorships.

It’s all a matter of degree, I suppose. But just because my own government is miles better than someone else’s doesn’t mean it couldn’t be hugely improved. A father who only beats his children a few times a year is a lot better than one who locks them in a cupboard and feeds them through a hatch but he still needs to stop beating his children. The question is, how do I use this wonderful tool, my vote, to nudge the next centrist, populist government in the direction of being better than it is?

Maybe I can’t. Maybe this is as good as it gets.

1 comment:

xman said...

Agree entirely, although I have taken a breather by accepting that government has become the marketing arm of corporations, and that corporations are now being protected from the people as opposed to the other way round..

and I don't get that while everybody agrees with comments like this, no-one seems to care.

Or at least no-one thinks anything can be done. I guess most are too busy living life to take a personal moral or logical stand.

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