Every once in a while a book comes along and says things that you have been thinking for ages. This happened to me when I read Mick Hume’s latest book “Revolting! How The Establishment Are Undermining Democracy And What They’re Afraid Of.”
Hume is not the usual blazered buffoon in a purple tie banging on about Brussels or a pub bore ranting about how “political correctness” is stopping him using racial slurs (rather than common human decency). He was editor of Living Marxism, newspaper of the now-defunct Revolutionary Communist Party. He was also editor of Spiked Online until 2007. His previous book, “Trigger Warnings”, was about the erosion of free speech in the UK. Not your average “far right” xenophobe.
Hume’s key idea is that the reaction to the Brexit vote in June 2016 referendum and the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency is far more important than those events themselves. As a “libertarian Marxist,” Hume is opposed to the European Union but also opposed to Donald Trump. His point is that both were democratic outcomes and the reaction of some of the illiberal “elite” has demonstrated their contempt for democracy and, far more disturbing, their utter disdain for some of their fellow citizens.
A number of commentators have based their criticism of both the Brexit vote and the election of Trump on the perceived stupidity of many voters. If only, some wail, these disgusting plebs were as clever as me, then we would still be in the EU and Hillary Clinton would have her feet firmly under the desk in the Oval Office. Hume writes about how the misanthropic attitudes of some of the illiberal “elite” has even led them into suggesting that some people are not qualified for the vote. Note how anyone who has written about the stupidity of voters automatically excludes themselves from any disqualification from voting, and they exclude anyone who agrees with them. Basically, some people’s idea of democracy appears to be “everyone is entitled to a vote so long as they agree with me because I’m so much cleverer than the average lumpen prole.”
Throughout history, there have been numerous attempts to deny basic rights on the basis of property, sex, race or religion. Kings, priests and plutocrats have claimed the right to more of a say over how a country is run and denied that right to the fellow human beings. And throughout history, it has been real left-wingers who have challenged these pretensions. The modern faux-left always claims to be in favour of human rights. And the whole point is that they CANNOT be taken away. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares in Article 21 that …
“(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
No-one has the right to stop people who disagree with them voting. Human rights are human rights. And, as with freedom of speech, who decides? If we are going to take away votes from people on the grounds of stupidity then any adult who still has an imaginary friend should be disenfranchised yesterday.
The second main point Hume makes is the rise of technocracy. A lot of serious political issues are being decided by “experts” rather than people elected by and responsible to ordinary voters. Because these issues are so complicated we should allow our betters to make these decisions for us. Unfortunately, a lot of these “experts” are pretty poor at their jobs. Let’s take two of the faux-left’s favourite organisations, the BBC and the NHS. The former is a nest of paedophile enablers who are funded by a poll tax whilst not one country has copied the model of health care provided by the permanently crisis-ridden NHS.
But by far the most inexpert technocrats are those who work for the spectacularly undemocratic European Union. Since its inception in 1993, the EU has faced three major problems – the Yugoslavian civil war, the banking collapse of 2008 (ongoing) and the refugee crisis (ongoing) – and it has failed all three times. Badly. If this is expertise then give me amateurism any time.
Brexit and the election of Donald Trump do not mean we need less democracy. They are a sign that we need more. And more free speech too. Vital political issues need to be debated and debated fiercely. No-one has the right to deny democracy and free speech. If you want to take away some people’s human rights because you disapprove of how they use them, how can you oppose other people who take away the human rights of people of whom you approve?