Monday, January 30, 2017

Legitimate Revolutions

You know, I'm not sure that I can add anything meaningful to the furore currently surrounding Trump and his executive order effectively banning many Muslims from entering the US.  What is there to say?  I mean, it isn't as if he didn't tell everyone that he was going to do this in his election campaign, is it?  So, this should stand as a warning to the complacent: you can't keep dismissing all of the extreme stuff he came out with during the campaign as simply 'electioneering'.  He's really going to try and do all those things, no matter how dangerous and damaging to the US and the wider world they might be.  Frustratingly, there is very little anyone can do about it for another four years, when the US will get a chance to deny him a second term n the White House.  But as we found here in the UK, at the last general election, no matter how bad a job a government does and no matter how unpopular they seem to be, they can returned with a majority and start enacting extreme right-wing policies nobody mandated them to do.  Of course, US voters will get a chance to do something about Trump sooner than the next presidential election: Congressional elections will give them the opportunity to change the political complexion of the House and Senate, which might, provided that the Democrats have the political will and backbone, result in some of Trump's excesses being curbed.

Whilst it is good that people are prepared to go out on the streets, both here and in the US, to protest about  Trump's policies, I'm afraid that experience has taught me that this will do little, if anything, to change the situation.  That's the thing about democracies, once they've gained power through the legitimate electoral process, our political leaders can simply dismiss criticism expressed via protests as being unrepresentative, reiterating that they rule by virtue of winning an election, which implies that the majority of voters agree with their policies.  Moreover, they have the full panoply of legitimate law enforcement agencies at their disposal with which to deal with protesters, their use justified by the fact that they are acting to protect the legitimate, elected, government.  As protesters, we have no choice but to play by their rules, otherwise risking our protests being ruled unlawful and illegitimate.  Basically, the authorities hold all the cards.  The reality is that unless you are prepared to step outside of the rules, then mass public protest will ultimately be ineffective against the likes of Trump and our own Tory bastards.  Ultimately, we all have to ask ourselves, at what point do we consider the actions of our political leaders to be so illegitimate that it justifies us stepping outside of normal legal constraints to try and change their policies or even force them from power?  I'm not talking about armed insurrections (although, there must also come a point when we ask ourselves if and when such action might be justified), but mass civil disobedience, of the kind used by Gandhi and his followers in India, for instance.

The fact is that the only time in recent memory that I can recall civil protests forcing a change in the policies of a UK government were those against Thatcher's poll tax.  Even then, it took protests boiling over into mass riots in Central London to effect any change.  You have to scare the bastards into thinking that they are in danger of losing control - which isn't easy, bearing in mind that they have both the civil and military authorities at their disposal to try and restore 'order'.  So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that we all have some careful thinking to do about this situation and some difficult and uncomfortable decisions to make.  It's also important to remember that, even if we are able to rid ourselves of Trump and our own Tory bastards, by whatever means, then we'll still have the problem of preventing future extremists from being able to seize power through the legitimate political system. Whilst it would be damn near impossible to design any democratic system immune from extremists, reforming our electoral system, in the UK at least, would be a good start.  Let's not forget that it is our 'first-past-the-post' system which allows the Tories to enjoy a parliamentary majority which their actual share of the vote in 2015 in no way justifies.  But hey, the last time we had a referendum on electoral reform, our electorate (which continually moans about politicians, our political institutions and how unrepresentative they are) rejected it.  Draw your own conclusions.   

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home