Sunday, 19 July 2009

Democracy Versus Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau supplied the political dogma, effectively the theology, of the French Revolution and every secular humanist movement since, such as the European Union. This is just a quick post of thoughts on why this kind of movement will end up doing evil, such as organised stalking, harassment, arbitrary public executions, just about every time, no matter how firmly any of these things are opposed in its founding set of principles.

The published thoughts of Rousseau are very many and very long, but the one that does practically all the damage goes something like this:

"If any two men honestly and reasonably contemplate the same issue, they will reach the same conclusion."

Ie: disagree with a follower of Rousseau and he will be serenely confident that you are either a perverse and dishonest person, who secretly knows that you are wrong and he is right, or you are completely irrational and quite incapable of telling right from wrong. That's how they deal with us, how they deal with each other is more interesting still:

They have to agree, and be seen to agree. But they do not know what is in each other's minds, so they can't be totally certain what conclusion they should agree with, until it is voiced. So they are uncertain, but because that uncertainty itself is a sign of dishonesty or unreason, they are frightened to let it show. Fear becomes a sign of dishonesty and unreason: they become afraid of their own fear.

But there's another complication: they think it is cruel and wrong to act other than with the will of the people: acting in the name of the people, or the king, is not enough. The will of the people may be unknown, it is rarely unaminous -and Roussea's theories imply that it has to be unaminous to be the will of the people- and in most cases, even if the will of the people were known, it wouldn't be what Rousseau's disciples believe, from their own inclinations as well as his teachings, should be done.

The whole belief system is under enormous internal tension and will destroy itself as soon as the leadership, in whatever cloying form it is disguised, finds itself publicly at odds with the people, or with itself.

So, if you are Richard the Lionheart, you can effectively say "think what you like, this is what I am going to do." Which may always force your hand, but it doesn't force your frontal lobes. If you are Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher you can say "this is what I'm going to do, if you don't like it, you can vote me out in five years time."

If you are a follower of Rousseau, such as Maximilien Robespierre or Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, you end up saying "The people's will is this" or "The vast majority of the British people want...." Blair never claimed adequate or tolerable support, it always had to be the vast majority, even when he scrapped back into power with the votes of about one third of the electorate! And because there were so obviously many people who opposed him, or contradicted him about the facts, such as Dr David Kelly, they needed to be, not just silenced, but utterly invalidated. They had to be racists, or mad, or dishonest.

This is why those who say that David Kelly was murdered are probably right about the murder, but also perhaps wrong when they seek to identify and expose the great global biowar conspiracy that would perhaps "justify" or at least explain the murder. If the good doctor was murdered by some other great power, particularly Russia, there may well be a need for an overpowering, high-stakes, motive.
(Unless he contradicted some claim or assurance made to the United Nations of the President of the USA by Mr Putin in person, in which case different rules apply.)

But if he was murdered on the orders of Mr Blair or someone close to him, or someone of like mind, there is absolutely no need for there to be any secret at all to be covered up by his killing.

Kelly not only dissented, but dissented in a way which invalidated Blair's claims to virtue, reason and honesty. These claims would be convenient to any politician, and they would all resent their loss, but to a Rousseau groupie like Blair, those claims, however shakey they seem to any third party, are utterly core to his self-identity. Medawar isn't merely claiming that this would have been enough to get Kelly murdered, he makes the unfashionable and unsettling assertion that to the Blair-mind, this would be more important than a global conspiracy or cover-up.

What many theorists do not appear to know, especially the American ones, is that there was a little old lady who knew no secrets at all, let alone those of any global conspiracy, who was treated just as viciously and crushingly as David Kelly by the Blair machine. Not because she even opposed him, but simply because she had been forced to wait for hours in a hospital casualty department without treatment, just as Blair claimed that this sort of thing didn't happen. Her experience contradicted Blair's assertion of virtue, the press were swiftly told that she was a racist who'd stubbornly lain on a hospital trolley untreated because of her vicious unreasoning hatred of ethnic minority hospital staff who tried to help her. The reality: she had been taken to hospital, had been too weak to raise a fuss, had been ignored and then forgotten, would have embarrassed but not harmed a genuinely democratic politician, who could have simply said: "it happened, it shouldn't have done, I will personally kick the arse of any hospital manager who lets it happen again."

Blair, being a secret disciple of a creed that believes it brings perfection to the affairs of man, simply could not make any such statement. Everything he does has to be right, everything he does is supported by the vast majority of the people (even when they are hurling bricks at him) every opponent and critic is perverse and probably deeply evil. And everything done by anyone he has hired or appointed, is similarly perfect, which is why the sort of hospital manager who lets little old ladies lie in misery within yards of people capable of treating them, never gets brought to book or sacked under Blair-style regimes.

Rousseau is poison to democracy, and to any practical system of governance, as well as any religion that admits the test of reason to belief. Rousseau forces the state, not just to control people's actions, nor even what they say, but as soon and as far as it becomes practicable to do so, Rousseau forces the state to control thoughts. It is worse than tyranny.

Democracy allows us to adopt a conclusion or follow a course of action without it becoming an article of faith. This means that we only adopt it for as long as it continues to be needed or it continues to make sense. The real strength of democracy is not that it always hits the ideal solution, let alone first go, but that it allows non-working or time-expired solutions a decent burial. Rousseau's people give every one of their solutions a gilt covering and a marble plinth. Believers in Rousseau are mostly lawyers and almost never engineers!

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