Monday, 8 February 2016

Changing course

Conventions and traditions, I suppose, work blindly but surely for the preservation of the normal type; for the extinction of proud, resolute and unusual individuals.
Ford Madox Ford - The Good Soldier (1915)

In the medium to long term, does it matter who is elected to lead the world’s major democracies? Is it the case that certain leaders are able to change the course of events in a way which favours the led? Or have we run out of suitably proud, resolute and unusual individuals? Or perhaps they have merely given up on us.

Political enthusiasts seem to believe not only in the rightness of their allegiances, but in the ability of some remarkably limited leaders to justify those allegiances. A degree of political confidence which seems to be sharply at odds with the flow of global integration. It does not fit with the reality, with the ever tightening webs of law, treaty and common standards. Instead, modern political life is like trying to change the course of a river. The flow may be slowed but cannot be turned back on itself.

Does it really matter who US voters elect as their next president? Does it matter if the UK Conservative party manages to take advantage of Jeremy Corbyn’s obvious lack of political nous? To a degree it does because riding the flow of events can be made more painful than it need be by political incompetence and that seems to be the key.

Without those proud, resolute and unusual individuals we may need a change in outlook, a shift in our expectations. It is not so much the ability to manipulate events which we require because that is no longer open to us, if indeed it ever was. Instead we need leaders who allow us to adapt to the flow of inevitable events having first identified what they are and how inevitable they may be. 

Continued membership of the EU may not be inevitable, but tighter and tighter global integration may be. In which case the EU referendum may speed up or slow down the course of events, but that is all. In the medium to long term it may make little difference either way. Admitting it politically is a different matter, but it need not be. Political dishonesty is not compulsory. 

Or perhaps it is.


Demetrius said...

I lie therefore I am.

Anonymous said...

I think you have it with 'modern political life', the idea that some sort of charismatic and super capable leader will solve all our problems is a mirage - we will never reach it because it can not exist. The old partitioning up of markets because of slow and difficult communication has long gone. A UK or a French or a German worker is intrinsically worth no more than a Chinese or Indian worker - except for some local social capital. European workers currently have a stock of social capital - but I fear it is running out and not being replaced albeit at slightly different rates in different countries.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - is that true?

Roger - I agree and there is little we can do about it other than aiming to make the change as painless as possible. I don't think we have any idea how to do that, least of all Corbyn and his temporary groupies. I wouldn't be surprised if Cameron sees it like that though.