Derek Mann’s letter is a timely reminder of the crisis afflicting democracy.
The withering of democratic participation is in large part due to the policies pursued by the mainstream parties who have supported the neo-liberal project enthroning corporations, and redefining citizens into consumers par excellence.
Ironically, the political parties are now seen as consumer items and the judgment of more and more consumers – voters – is to reject them by renouncing membership and failing to participate in the electoral process.
The system can cope with the traditional, historical level of voter apathy but what we have now is something entirely different.
Anecdotal evidence shows growing hostility to the Lab/Con/Lib-Dems. Some voters are continuing to vote for the mainstream parties, albeit with great reluctance; others are disengaging completely and adding to the long-standing disengaged, while the rest are finding expression through other parties, such as UKIP.
Consumerised politics is bound to be the politics of dissatisfaction and alienation. It leads to politicians being unable to talk candidly or to tell the truth, to the constructing of webs of falsehood and grandiosity and promising too much, and ultimately to voter disillusionment on an epic scale.
The political elite are now confused and utterly bewildered by this turn of events, and when one adds to this mix the asinine output from some sections of the national media our difficulties are then compounded.
Many daily “newspapers” spend four years nine months sneering and smearing politics and politicians and then three months encouraging and telling people how to vote. It’s an equation that simply doesn’t compute.
Sadly, the failings of the media extend to popular culture. Leading national “soaps” on television have been reduced to the implausible in an endless quest for ratings and focus primarily on “personal drama” to the exclusion of stories showing some characters in the role of politicians dealing with exceedingly complex issues in the best way they can.
We’re falling into the abyss, and I really don’t know how we’re going to get out of it.
Despite all of this one must remain hopeful.
There are some terrifically good people in politics, a few of whom see the problem clearly and who are trying their very best to improve things.
They are facing an epic struggle as the forces ranged against them are very great indeed.