Sunday, 11 April 2021
We know all this but…
Linking ideas can be a rum game. Certain links can be interesting but discouraged by social and/or political convention. An interesting example is the link between democracy, the welfare state and the subsequent loss of democracy.
Over time, democracy in the UK has steered us towards a bigger and wider welfare state. Politicians promise it and voters vote for it - this gives us our feedback loop. More welfare leads to more government involvement in daily life and new political opportunities for ever more welfare promises. It doesn’t stop because there is no mechanism to stop it apart from economic limitations.
We know all this but don’t do anything about it. Personal responsibility has become a political step backwards even though we are well past the stage when democratically it would be a step forwards.
Eventually we reach a level of government overreach where democratic options have disappeared and we are effectively left with a totalitarian government. It may be slowed down by a carefully designed constitution, but the feedback loop of political promise and voter acceptance is too easy. Eventually democracies undermine themselves.
The process is so obvious and so well-known that we might suppose it would become a prominent public debate, but it never does. Political classes won’t tell voters that their promises are ultimately destructive, that governments can’t do everything. It doesn’t matter to them that this is the case. It doesn’t matter to them that our democracy is fading away. It only matters to us. But not enough apparently.