Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chesterton on the Two Party Democracy

G.K. Chesterton on "The Voter and the Two Voices." (Essay)

The real danger of the two parties is that they unduly limit the outlook of the ordinary citizen.  They make him barren instead of creative, because he is never allowed to do anything except prefer one existing policy to another.  We have not got real Democracy when the decision depends upon the people.  We shall have real Democracy when the problem depends upon the people.  The ordinary man will decide not only how he will vote, but what he is going to vote about.

...The democracy has a right to answer questions, but it has no right to ask them.  It is still the political aristocracy that asks the questions.  And we shall not be unreasonably cynical if we suppose that the political aristocracy will always be rather careful what questions it asks ... the powerful class will choose two courses of action, both of them safe for itself, and then give the democracy the gratification of taking one course or the other.

(Religion and Politics, in "Literary Converts", Joseph Pearce, pp. 60,61)

Interesting points.

It makes me think of two things mostly.  Ever since Facebook, we seem to be closer to the discussions within the United States.  The polarization baffles and annoys anyone who is watching and listening.  If they were not continuously on the election path... if only.  If only.

And Canada is not very different.  We have three parties, which widens the discussion somewhat.  But our government tends to be in a dictatorship position once it is elected.  In contrast, in Germany, any new party can rise to power.  If it achieves 7% of the popular vote it can send members to parliament.

Secondly, it reminds me of what has lately come into my life under the guise of "dialectics".  It seems to me that it was nothing of the sort.  It was just plain contrariness, selecting the questions, framing the discussion, throwing itself against everything and anything, never intending to change its mind, or even to have a mind on anything.  Vacuous.  Futile. Vain--as Solomon would say.  But then Solomon says that everything is vanity...

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