Perhaps democracy never really had a hope. Voters don’t do anywhere near enough political analysis to make it work. Depressing surveys such as this one even suggest that voters know how little they know as they cast their vote. From the beginning the romance of democracy was usurped by political parties who understand the low information voter only too well. So they make it easy for us by selling a political brand instead of something concrete or radical. We might ask for more.
Inevitably voting for a brand was never enough to keep alive the charade of democratic accountability. Now we reap the consequences. We are reverting to the old ways, to the days of a remote elite, an aristocracy based on nepotism, armies of functionaries, cosy deals with business elites and millions of graded sinecures for the faithful.
Our evolving aristocratic world is not a world of kings, queens and ancient titles because the new brand has to be differentiated from the old - obviously. So fewer top hats and conspicuous displays of wealth and power because the visual clues must be kept to a minimum. Aristocratic life is also far more complex than it was in the old days, with many more grades of membership. Yet the rise of new style courts, courtiers and functionaries has become too obvious to ignore. The EU is one such court, Westminster another.
As well an evolving global elite, our new world teems with millions of functionaries and servants whose lives depend not on the votes they cast but on the developing patterns of power which constitute the new world order. The ultimate shape of a global aristocracy may be a matter of conjecture, but the omens are not good. We are not naturally benign when it comes to dealing with outsiders.
An emerging global aristocracy also raises a question about Cameron’s EU referendum. It seems to be the only move we in the UK have left to put a stick in the global elite wheel. Not a very big stick though. A Poohstick perhaps?