Sunday, 13 May 2012
Bread and circuses
In my experience, I have observed that people are oftener quick than not to feel a human compassion for others in distress. Also, that they mostly see plain enough what's hard and cruel and unfair on them in the governing of the country which they help to keep going. But once ask them to get on from sitting down and grumbling about it, to rising up and setting it right, and what do you find them? As helpless as a flock of sheep - that's what you find them.
Wilkie Collins - Man and Wife
Do people in the UK actually like regulations? Do we prefer a highly regulated world as opposed to one where we have judge for ourselves, have to look after ourselves and our loved ones as best we can? A world where we stand or fall on the competence of our own actions?
I think the answer is a qualified yes. Many people are indeed comfortable with a highly-regulated world where in principle everything of any significance is either forbidden or compulsory and they have no say in political decisions.
How do I know? Because that's the trend and on the whole people aren't taking to the streets. The world is as it appears to be - endlessly restrictive regulations are either popular, or at least, not unpopular. You'd possibly never get folk to admit it, but that's not necessarily the point.
It may even be that many would be happy to do away with elections too. Again we pay attention to actual behaviour - and that is a declining propensity to vote. Add that to the widespread habit of voting exclusively for one of the big three parties plus the trivial policy differences between Dave, Nick and Ed and one is surely bound to conclude that radical change isn't popular either.
Democracy in the UK is fading away - possibly in part because many people don't actually want it. Maybe they would never admit it and may even deny it vociferously, but behaviour tells its own story and that is one of widespread indifference.
Bread and circuses? Well it certainly works - of course it does. Maybe the point of the industrial revolution was exactly that - to create enough bread and affordable circuses. As far as I can see it worked. It probably won't last, but it didn't last time around either.
Collins was right.