Requirements for Democratic Government:
1/ Law should reflect the feelings of the heart
2/ Law is Sovereign – sovereignty lays with the people.
3/ Representative democracy is a derogation from true democracy for practical reasons.
4/ The derogation should be limited
a) One year parliaments
b) MPs may be dismissed for poor work during parliament,
c) All debate and committee work to be conducted in public and published daily in summary and detail.
5/ To enforce the limited derogation, an amendment to the basic law of the country will be drafted, adding an enforcement clause to that law. This requires a cadre of youth to observe and report on representatives at national, county and municipal level. They will perform this duty for one year on completion of their education and before starting work. It is a form of national service from which none may be exempted. The students may accept unpaid help from interested retirees. (young people hold socially responsible mindsets of truth and justice uncontaminated by exposure to the commercial world. They are ipso facto qualified and need not be elected. They might be assisted by old retired people, preferably engineers, farmers and soldiers, who are willing to give their time and experience in the national interest and are acceptable to their local cadre.)
6/ The cadres, young and old, will observe elections, observe and record debates, report debates and summarise them in the government gazette and every newspaper (for which service the Editors will provide one page of their newspaper gratis), and highlight failures in propriety which will be brought before a public forum for criticism and correction thereby restoring democratic oversight to legislative acts.
7/ They will take care to preserve the balance between executive, legislature and judiciary so no single arm of government can overawe another.
8/ Law will cease to be list of things you can or cannot do and become instead (and incrementally) a brief statement of aspects of propriety with which all members of our society agree to conform. The Rule of Propriety will succeed the Rule of Law.
Characterising government by an external feature – monarchy as rule by one man, aristocracy by several men and democracy by all men – does not explain the source of government power. The answer to that is the real basis of government and it is found in the co-existence of society and government. These mutually imply one another. Society requires some rule, some social law that all members of the tribe subscribe to. For our species it is no doubt the rule of truth and justice that we try to incorporate in our law. It is the internal assessment we all make when we hear words or see deeds – good / bad, right / wrong – and only after acknowledging that assessment do we construct the logic to communicate our opinion to others. It seems to follow that the first social law is justice and truth. It precedes rationality and is socially superior to it.
It follows that the values we wish to entrench in our society are not rationally derived but are understood instinctively in the spiritual plane. It is possible to derive a rational explanation of propriety but mainly it is by a series of examples illustrative of the mindset rather than an internalised understanding of how it comes about but we will not burden society and our posterity with any such duty. On the contrary we recognise the superior man, the man who has overcome his self-concept and it is to such people that we turn in hope to patiently endure the burden of leadersip.
Some say the origin of society lies in the family and in the rights of the father to direct his children. A family is certainly a society. Ultimately the father can demand obedience by his greater strength but no father constantly relies on force. It requires his continuous alertness to the activities of his family. He wants them to subscribe to his values and endorse them in their independent acts. He wants to be the law-giver, to control the game and teach his values and preferences. By repetition of values he conditions his own mindset in them. The tendency of all government, family or national, is to absolutism unless regularly questioned and required to justify itself, to persuade others it is right.
Sovereignty belongs to no-one. It is like justice. It cannot be owned. The requirements of sovereignty can be revealed by debate and introspection. Society is many; truth is one (by which I mean that myriad individuals will have their own opinions which, when honed by debate and persuasiveness, reduce to one). The laws based on overt justice and honed by reason become the sovereign of society. The laws must be searched for by deliberation and debate. That is the duty of the assembly that comes together to fix the laws governing the group. The law will commonly be a statement of intent. Judicial interpretation will clarify the extent of its meaning in differing circumstances.
It is a feature of our society that we specialise. We have a great many professions – medicine, accounting, law – wherein practitioners have evolved special knowledge. Ordinary members of our society employ these specialists as their agents whenever necessary. We employ soldiers to defend our homeland and we employ political representatives to keep our statute book relevant and brief. These relationships are contractual relationships between the citizen as Principal and the Agent.
Electors confer upon representatives the duty of examining and deciding matters according to propriety. The election of representatives is a derogation from pure democracy for practical reasons for someone must hold and exercise the reins of government; must continue the direction of society for mutual benefit. Those few chosen to represent the rest in formulating and maintaining the rules of society are expected to act to their best ability.
The derogation must be limited to prevent representatives assuming greater power than is actually delegated. Several means are open to the electorate to achieve this, some of which appear in the opening paragraph of this document. Parliaments may be kept short to diminish the chances for bribery by merchants, either collectively as Chambers of Commerce and lobbies or individually; any resident may collect letters of support, perhaps Powers of Attorney, sufficient for him to represent others and become a candidate at election; representatives may be dismissed and replaced for poor or non-performance at and between elections; debates and inquiries must be public and transparent, no inferences need be drawn.
A blameless group (probably the idealistic youth of the country) might form a cadre of inspectors to monitor elections, observe the representatives at work, record and publish their deliberations; require any daily publication, paper or digital, to publish a summary of these deliberations; maintain the balance between legislature, judiciary and executive so no one part of government can overawe the others as the legislature has done so undemocratically today. This proposed cadre of youth will serve for a year like a domestic Peace Corps after concluding its education and before commencing post-educational activities. They will preserve democracy for the people as their national service, recognising that we ourselves have been inattentive or incapable of doing so.
The characteristic of our history has been the gradual ascendance of self-interest as the primary concern of our law-givers – they believe humanity is a solely economic animal. There is an aspect of our self-interest that we will adopt in our social interest too. Everyone is familiar with paper money, with companies, with human rights. These are a few of the things that we have chosen to add to actual existence although they have no basis to existence beyond our preference for them. Democracy too is like that. We will copy these creations from the present system.
It is true that curiosity is of great importance to the success of our species. Without our constantly ‘turning over every stone’ we would not know half of what we have learned so far. Greed is a defining characteristic of ours and a cause of our success. However, in the settled states of Asia, before Europe rose to prominence, the purpose of government was to elevate social duty above personal advantage i.e. to capture as government intention the instinctive evaluation in our hearts when we see a deed or hear words. To nurture and strengthen society.
This is what one learns of historical Asian ideas of government. It is the rationale to the old Chinese Imperial examination of candidates for official posts – a knowledge of propriety. It is my belief that the reports sent back by Jesuits and Dominicans from Beijing in the 18th century formed an important part of the raw material out of which the Philosophes created their new governmental ideas. Similar values directed native American communities. Indeed it has sprung up in all corners of the world and might be considered a preferred choice for our social organisation.
The practical problem with democracy is displayed in the Federalist Papers. When America was examining how to escape the British Empire, the founding fathers looked at history. Hamilton and Madison nailed the weakness of democracy in classical times. It turned into rule by the poor. History revealed that democracy never lasted, the oligarchs or generals always found ways to transfer power back to themselves. The founding fathers nevertheless promoted it as their preference because the people liked to feel their opinions were important and their military service was indispensable. They expected ‘government of the people. by the people, etc.’ and had to be satisfied. History shows the oligarchs in a society have always triumphed over the democrats. So the founding fathers installed checks to level the playing field – 1/ control of the Presidency by an Electoral College; 2/ Constitution of the Senate (not directly elected until after WWI) which required two reps from each state to attend debates and speak for their state.
This was to remove individual self-interest as the source of law and replace it with social interest, the best deal for the country as a whole as identified in debate by the political representatives. This means that the development of self-interest (the field of interest to the gambling fraternity) will in future be mitigated by social duty and restricted to those endeavours where it is best fitted – activities of uncertain outcome like scientific and medical research and space exploration – for which some reward should be available for a time.
What has happened to us, in spite of the precautions of the founding fathers, is that the men of commerce have obtained the ear of government and subverted the representatives to act in their interest rather than the people’s interest. This occurred two centuries ago when Britain fell into bankruptcy and was saved by great capitalists. Prior to that time Europe was governed under the stable platform of absolute monarchs performing their duty to God, supported by the Pope who confirmed their celestial status. With the rise of new ideology in the United States, Europeans became aware of the possibility of greater freedom and opportunity and this was expressed first in Europe in the fall of the Bastille and the start of revolution in Paris. The response of the Kings and their supporters to this loss of authority and regicide was eternal hostility. Thus began over 20 years of continuous war between the European peoples and their ruling class.
Europe financed its efforts in behalf of Republicanism and Democracy by taxing production whereas Britain, which led the ideological opposition, introduced a new form of government revenue learned from its rule of India – debt-based finance. Instead of raising a revenue year by year to meet expenses, the British ministry under William Pitt calculated the value of the country and gave it as security for loans from holders of capital who organised themselves into bidding groups. By applying normal government revenue to payment of interest on these loans, the government obtained the use of those large sums to fight the war. The loans were then sold on the London Stock Exchange as debt for which the government guaranteed payment of interest and provided a market in which to buy and sell at any time. Ultimately the government guaranteed supporters that these bonds would retain 60% value. This is the debt-based system that called into use the future resources of the country and thus enabled Britain to prevail in war albeit at an immense cost – the creation of a national debt, interest on which could not be paid-off and required the entire annual revenue to maintain.
Using this method of finance the United Kingdom won the war but would instantly lose the peace. The Europeans were comparatively debt-free and able to resuscitate their countries straight away whilst UK was almost bankrupted (and its capitalist supporters knew it) and even the reparations taken from France and its allies made little difference to the overall British position. It was clear that the way forward, now the country had seized control of the seas and international trade, was to bring all competing countries into debt through London Bank loans thus obtaining their repayments, setting whatever terms we wished and exposing their governments to our capital by securitising their debt on their national stock exchanges, exposing it to our financial interference. This was a program that the banks found deeply gratifying and it obtained their fullest co-operation. It was at this time that we invented the sale of shares we had not yet bought (see an early example of Meyer Rothschild in the economy chapter) and other tricks to take control of global finances. The accumulation of capital to be a winner in this system gave birth to a market in general insurance and saw an increase in life and marine assurance.
During the Great War the European people benefitted from the democratic reforms that had started in France. They enjoyed a measure of political influence on their governments. All those areas that Napoleon made into Republics enacted Constitutions similar to the American model – the Netherlands, the 100+ German states along the Rhine, the Swiss Cantons, the provinces of northern Italy, Saxony and the Balkans – in other words a major part of the continent except Prussia and the Austrian Empire. On the victory of the Kings these people were returned to their former status under what the Kings called ‘orderly government’ and they resented it. Their escape after the war was to America, the land of the free, where the flow of emigrants became a torrent.
Soon after that time representatives of the City of London obtained Peel’s agreement to repeal the Customs and Excise taxes on their trade and transfer the burden to the working population as an Income Tax. To assure themselves that successive governments would not renege, the merchants agreed to pay the costs of collecting the tax themselves, a deal that has survived to this day.
There are a great many other legislative novelties that successive governments of every colour have introduced for a variety of professed reasons but always to the advantage of capital. Perhaps the most egregious from the point of view of justice and equity are 1/ limited liability whereby the company does not pay incurred debts beyond its uncalled capital and 2/ the magical legislative deeming that a company is a person with all the legal rights of a real person. This latter indulgence is the source of nominee companies, of tax havens, the widespread but anonymous trade in weapons of mass destruction, tax avoidance, laundering of money and international crime. Remember this when you next see a politician wringing his hands over tax havens. It is really very popular with both politicians and merchants and forms an almost impenetrable shield over most of the commercial tricks they perform.
It was also the case in the United Kingdom that the electorate was further emasculated by the 1884 Reform provisions which, whilst extending the franchise, a clause that was widely published, also turned representatives of electors into delegates of factions and thus brought control of parliament under the power of a very few politicians.
Liberty is not for those who disproportionately value ease and gratification. We Britons have also lost our liberty in this way as the Americans have more recently lost theirs, simply by preferring leisure or by allowing the increasing cost of living to deprive us of sufficient free time to deliberate fully and take an appropriate position on political matters. A particular triumph in this respect In UK was the start of Sunday trading that ended the sanctity and peacefulness of that one day a week when citizens might update their knowledge of the previous week’s events.
The proposal here to use young people to protect democracy is a partial answer, to throw the load on the strongest of our youth who are willing and able to endure it. Older people, those who have retired and have time on their hands will help as well, particularly those who have lived productive lives or provided services. As the years pass the country will have an increasing number of people with experience of protecting and nurturing democracy. They will come to characterise Britain, a new and unique institution whereby we British can make amends for misleading the planet centuries ago and re-establish our reputation as a civilised and humanitarian nation. Then our democracy will be strong and the means of enforcement will be embraced by other countries that also wish to be free and accept the challenge of governing themselves. It might well be the first flowering of a golden age for this planet.
I should mention here for good order that Athens at the end of the 6th century BC invented two institutions at the same time – democracy and theatre – and one complemented the other. I am indebted to Dr Michael Scott of the University of Warwick for this information. Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles and others wrote the plays that presented the difficult choices to be made by a democratic people. Often the play left matters undecided and the audience went away asking themselves that question “ti draso?” – “what should I do?” Thus were the Greek people inducted into the duties of a democracy.
Man in society remains the same as man alone. Society is a collection of individuals. The supreme law that regulates society is the same that regulates the individual’s actions and words. He does what he does believing others will not oppose him and he can always defend his actions. He subscribes to the French Revolutionary saying “your rights end where my nose begins.”
To conclude, law must reflect the values of the heart; the representatives must search for this and legislate for it. If that requires a new basis to English Law in which the law describes the proper attitude of the doer or speaker rather than specific acts or words, then so be it. We have a legal system that list the things you may not do. We might have listed the things you can do but, in either case, the drafting of law inevitably becomes more and more complex and inscrutable to the point we have reached today when the Chief Justice of Britain recently opined it had become more or less incomprehensible (BBC “Strange Case of the Law”, 2013). In fact the process of trying to foresee every possible eventuality and legislate for it has proved absurd.
So, in this halcyon future of delight, our statute book will become a pamphlet of a few paragraphs which every citizen will know, remember and understand as well as the National Anthem. We will turn our backs on trickery, on clever advocacy and the sale of legal services, no cure no pay, and return to simple, honest and straightforward settlement of disputes between ourselves and infrequently, for those few who remain untutored in living without help, by outsiders.