Max Hastings touches a few sensitive spots on the rotting body politic when he suggests that democracy is becoming increasingly decrepit and might even be approaching death's door! In an essay in The Mail he begins by giving a big 'fuck you' to the political 'philosopher/historian' Mr. Fukuyama who proposed some years ago that with the triumph of democracy everywhere but especially in Russia history had come to an end. A bit like those Hollywood war or western movies which always end on a high note with a flying flag and some stirring music. 'F' for Fail, Mr. Fukuyama!
Hastings points to numerous continents, well, all of them, actually, and emphasises the growth of totalitarianism and the slow death of democracy. Even, or perhaps especially, in those places hitherto thought of as both cradles as well as bulwarks of democracy - Britain and America:
In the U.S., sensible people talk and write openly about a democratic crisis. The bitter divisions between Republicans and Democrats have created gridlock in both houses of Congress. The old willingness to cut deals and make compromises to keep government moving has become a dead letter. A large chunk of the U.S., and especially its old, white, mid-Western, Western and southern heartland, feels as disenfranchised as do UKIP supporters in Britain. It sees a host of things being done, or not done, in Washington, which inspires bitter hostility on religious, economic or social grounds.
'Over here' one senses not so much fury as the smell of decay bred by cynical indifference as the notion grows and grows that 'they're all the same', 'they' being the politicians. That is, I think, an accurate assessment but a dangerous one. It positively encourages our politicians to take an extreme line and, as Hastings reminds us with the example of Adolph Hitler, once an extremist gains power via the ballot box it doesn't take long to turn those metal boxes into guns!
Optimists, or as I describe them, those who are deaf, dumb, blind and lack a sense of smell, might lodge their hopes for the future with a free and independent judiciary but Hastings despaches that silliness, and the Cocklecarrots, better than I can:
The judiciary displays a sorry combination of conceit and complacency. It has contributed substantially to the British people's mounting belief that, while they supposedly live in a democracy, they are denied their rightful voice in their own destinies.
It is another judge, Sir Brian Leveson, whose report last year into Press ethics threatens an unprecedented legislative assault on Press freedom, that vital pillar of democracy.
So what are we to do? I dunno! Happily I'll be dead by the time all that plays out so I can only emulate the captain of that cruise liner which sank off Italy recently and salute you all as I step into the lifeboat and before pushing off utter the immortal words, "Well done, chaps, good show, carry on!"