Leaders don't want change
March 16, 2011
In your editorial, “Politics and Principles” (March 4) you write: “It would be nice to think that a different method would be both more honest and as effective as the current one. But no one has come up with one yet.” Perhaps that is because no one has tried! We have uncritically accepted a method that Great Britain developed for itself after decades of trial and error. It gradually arrived at a more democratic system for a society that had a centuries-old elite that had developed a strong sense of “noblesse oblige” (obligations of the noble) towards its lower classes. We have imposed it on a society that rather than having a centuries old elite, or aristocracy, had a society that had barely emerged from slavery, and our “political elite”, still struggling from the scars of segregation, is far too concerned with proving it, itself, has value and worth (and importance) to have thought of its “obligations” or “noblesse oblige” to anyone. That is one reason that (as you imply) the self interested striving for personal political power leaves no time or thought for “principles”.
You mention dishonesty (the potential for corruption?) but you do not acknowledge that our current system is also undemocratic (or do you think that it is?) with its unequally paid MPs with unequal responsibilities, power and status which makes our votes of unequal value. Its secret Cabinet which presumes, like the old white oligarchy, that it knows what is best for the ignorant masses. Despite your own point of view, that old white oligarchy, without the divisiveness of party politics, was extremely effective. It kept that vast majority of black people in total subjection and economically exploited for 350 years! More than that, without political parties, it had no reason to be dishonest. They were united in their intention to maintain total control, a concept that did not have to be kept private. It was widely disseminated.
Since, according to you, (and I do not disagree) “doing the right thing now can mean a lack of influence later”, that means that the way we have implemented the party politics system one only has political influence by doing the wrong thing! This system benefits those few who are part of the political elite and the political machine, while the vast majority have no real say or input, and therefore no influence. We only have to look at the process for electing the Premier, who then determines the lives of all of us even though all of us have no input. This system gives tremendous power and status to politicians who, therefore, have no interest in changing the system. They have a vested interest in its remaining undemocratic and even dishonest.
However, I do not see that you have a vested interest in the current system. So, no matter how limited your influence, you should be thinking out of the box and rather than concluding that no other system can be both honest and effective you might be researching and thinking about what other system might be available. Slavery lasted for 400 years with no thought that any other social system was conceivable or desirable. Do we have to accept a system that is so clearly dishonest and undemocratic because it is effective in carrying out the undisclosed wishes of the few in Cabinet, which may or may not be to the benefit of the majority of the rest of us, or even our wishes, no matter how ill-advised our wishes may seem to those that have been elected to carry out our wishes.
EVA N HODGSONEditor's Note: The reference to dishonesty in the editorial was not a reference to corruption but to the fact that MPs and Ministers must publicly support and promote policies with which they may disagree.