It’s hard to know what to say about this election, given the current woeful state of both this country and a world in which a man like Donald Trump can act as president of the USA.
If I had to choose just one instance of this UK campaign as confirming my belief that our current quasi-democratic system is now unfit for purpose, it would be Teresa May’s call – echoed by the Conservative Press this morning – for ‘patriots’ to vote for her party. That call suggests to me that the country is being led by a woman prepared to call up a mindset that may have been appropriate in c.1940, that’s to say ten years before I was born, but is nonsensical today. Nonsensical because we live in an age of both globalism and of a global environmental crisis and all the social ills associated with it.
Her appeal suggests, of course, that she believes that a large proportion of the British population is sleepwalking in a dream in which Britain’s “greatness” can only be restored by a party that ignores all the complexities of the contemporary world so as to focus on preserving their own sense of entitlement in the guise of ‘patriotism’. A belief that all too quickly translates into the old story of the wealthy, who are naturally ‘patriots’ in so far as they own the land and its wealth, ensuring that the country is run for their benefit. And so we have a politics that says to hell with anyone who might have a negative effect on my standard of living. There’s obviously a large element of truth in that, but I don’t think it’s the whole story by any means.
It’s clear to me that any genuine democracy is quite simply incompatible with our dominant culture of possessive individualism. Traditionally, the Labour Party promoted a form of Socialism that, in principle if not always in practice, kept the debate about the limits of possessive individualism alive. Tony Blair’s New Labour effectively put an end to that and to any semblance of ethics that had sustained it. (one of the factors that made Blair’s religiosity all the more obscene). From what I have seen I think Jeremy Corbyn has been attempting to return the Labour Party to that tradition. But, while I sincerely hope his party does well in the election today so as at least to serve as a challenging opposition to the deadening archaism represented by May’s call to ‘patriotism’, I can’t support a party still wedded to the ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system that, along with the media, is the biggest single factor in perpetuating the failure of our pseudo-democrasy. It’s one thing for Labour to ‘adopt’ those aspects of Green Party policy that strengthen it’s appeal, but until we have proportional representation in Britain we will be unable to even begin properly to respond to the psychic, social and environmental complexities we face.