This site contains many 'political' essays attempting to reconcile material and economic practice with moral, psychological, and spiritual considerations nearly all with particular reference to my own country, the United Kingdom. Recent disclosures about the financial affairs of some members of the supreme UK legislature suggest that I should try one more time to give some small impetus in what I strongly believe to be the right direction of travel.
The evidence of moral turpitude among Members of both Houses of the UK Parliament currently being laid bare in the news media is symptomatic of a national decline in ethical standards beyond the imagining of those among whom I was brought up seventy-odd years ago. I have come to see that such a decline is inevitable when the long-term health of the human spirit is sacrificed to the short-term demands of the physical body.
Such a deep-seated trend is not easily reversed; but I am convinced that any hope for the return of the British nation to moral health depends on a rapid and determined re-introduction of strict political discipline.
Western nations have long trumpeted the supposed virtues of democracy which is supposed to be government of the people by the people themselves. Taken to its logical conclusion, this implies individual self-government; and we all know from personal experience that such an interpretation is impractical because only a minority of people seem capable of governing themselves without giving offence to other people. Readers of Plato's Republic will know that Socrates made this very clear. Hence, most so-called 'democratic' nations, including the UK, have evolved a form of representative democracy whereby somewhat arbitrary subsets of the people are represented in a Parliament or other legislative assembly by one individual who is usually appointed by election.
Hence it is obviously essential for the long-term good of any nation that its people should be represented in government by individuals drawn from the small minority of its people who are capable not only of governing themselves but also of subordinating their own life-time ambitions to what they can perceive to be the long-term good of at least the next two generations of their descendants. This implies that long-term national prosperity depends less on periodic general elections than on ensuring as far as possible that elected representatives have the quality of trustworthiness. Although elections have an important part to play, much long-established rubbish must be discarded before they can become effective.
The first step must be to eliminate the rôle of political parties which, although they originated as grass roots movements whereby the people sought to liberate themselves from tyranny, have collectively deteriorated into what I have described elsewhere as "a Machiavellian device for keeping professional politicians in power", and which is therefore the very negation of true democracy.
The next step must be to place the electoral emphasis on local elections whereby groups of local people are able to select from among themselves at least one person whom they consider sufficiently trustworthy to represent them at the next higher level of local government. The electoral ward in which I reside has no fewer than three representatives on the local District Council; all three are almost invariably nominated by, and elected through, the medium of one political party whose subscribers or adherents are numerous enough to ensure the election of the party's candidates regardless of their personal qualities. Hence, unless a party list happens to include at least one individual whom I know personally and feel I can trust, none of the names that appear on a ballot paper can actually represent me in any meaningful sense. I get the impression that, once elected, Councillors prefer to avoid contact with all but their own supporters.
A quick and inexpensive remedy for this would be to designate one meeting room in every basic electoral district to enable a quorum of local electors to call their representatives to account from time to time. Not surprisingly, such a proposal finds little support among the partisans who, once their nominees are elected, prefer to protect them from impartial scrutiny.
Having made nominees of political parties ineligible for election, I offer the following as a democratic recipe for the civil administration of the United Kingdom.
Implementation of such a scheme should have the following beneficial effects:
Other considerations are dealt with in Towards True Democracy