Current

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A sinner repenteth?

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 1/03/2012 07:34:00 am

It seems that Jon Worth is having a crisis of faith, engendered by a dose of harsh reality.
What do you do when one of the fundamental things you’ve believed in for years, have spent ages working towards, is actually not anywhere near as desirable as you previously thought?

Why, rethink your position, of course.
The old federalist argument, repeated ad infinitum at Ventotene, drawing on Spinelli’s manifesto, is that the nation state is broken and only supranational democratic structures in Europe (a European federation) can fix it.

This is the essentially the same argument that Nosemonkey has used in my discussions with him (over many years now).
That’s all very well if your systems of representative democracy work OK, but what if they don’t? What if political parties are tired and hollowed out, and beholden to narrow interests and are in awe of the power of the markets? With election turnouts decreasing? With messy multi-party compromises, and leaders ready to ditch the few principles they once had? Why should we expect leadership to be any more enlightened at EU level than is the case nationally just now?

The main problem with this idea is that those who are leading the European Union (and other supranational organisations) are those same people who are elected by this tired, worn-out and ultimately corrupt democracy that Jon has decried above.
Make the EU a representative democracy in the classical sense (government contingent on a majority in parliament, executive proposes legislation that the legislature approves and amends, parties run in elections etc.) tomorrow, and we’re just going to replicate all the disfunction on a continent wide scale.

Actually, what Jon has described there is not "classical democracy"—it is representative democracy. And representative democracy is part of the problem.

Because the problem is disengagement—people don't bother voting because they don't believe that it will make any difference. "They're all the same"; "whoever you vote for the government always gets in"—these sentiments are common-place in the British electorate, at least.

And, as Jon also points out, "the illegitimate technocracy of the past that has lacked citizen involvement and democratic control" is not the answer either: first, because technocratic planners are never as good at planning as they think they are and, second, because people feel even more disenfranchised (and that usually ends with blood in the streets).

My objection—put to both Nosemonkey and Jon (over a pint or two)—have always, actually, been much the same as those raised above, i.e. if nation states' governments are tired and corrupt, how does a supranational government differ? And, of course, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

For what it is worth, I have argued for a long time that national governments are too centralised—hence the electorate's feeling of powerlessness and thus inevitable disengagement.

My argument is that there this centralised model should be replaced by far smaller, more local units of government—with far more power (especially as regards tax-raising) than our local authorities currently have.

The electorate would be able to see the changes that they have voted for—for better or for worse—much more immediately and, as such, would be far more inclined to vote and otherwise engage with the political process.

So, having identified the problems that Jon did, my answer was smaller, more local democracy—not bigger, more remote, supranational governments. And, if those issues that transcend borders are so important—pollution or, if you enjoy that particular scientific perversion, climate change—are so important, then countries can get together to make international treaties (which is more or less how the EU operates anyway).

The difference is that the West is becoming more and more irrelevant in these debates, and increasingly we are hamstrung in these deals by the EU.

Time for a change!

Labels: ,


Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 1/03/2012 07:34:00 am


7 Blogger Comments:

Blogger Jon Worth said...

A very fair post DK, and - broadly - on decentralisation I agree with you. I am most definitely not of one entrenched view as to what power needs to be wielded at whichever level.

There is one issue I have with your post though - while I may bemoan many of the EU's failings, in comparison to any other international organisation (OECD, NATO, UN, G20 - take your pick) it's actually quite functional. The fact its decisions are legally binding means some things get done, and majority voting means it doesn't go at the speed of the slowest. That's vastly preferable to the intergovernmental solutions you sketch out.

1/03/2012 09:23:00 am  
Anonymous Hollando said...

@Jon

The EU more functional than NATO??

The others, fair enough, but NATO is probably the single most important post war organisation, and until recently had a solid reputation.

1/03/2012 10:43:00 am  
Anonymous Michael Fowke said...

I'm not very optimistic. Things will just get worse until we have one world government by lizards or something.

1/03/2012 11:37:00 am  
Anonymous RobH said...

I think that trying to cure the government problem by varying the degree of democracy in local/national/supranational bodies is doomed to failure. As the problem is too much government, then where it is applied, and how many people agree to it, do not fundamentally affect the outcome. There is a strong argument for distant government, with a reduced ability to project their power to the local level and interfere with our lives. Busybodies are a pain in the ass at all levels.

Also, democracy causes a vicious circle where increased socialism causes more interference, causing more nanny propaganda, corrupting the the media, causing ignorance among the voters, causing more stupid leaders to be elected.

The only answer is to limit what the government is allowed to do.

1/03/2012 06:33:00 pm  
Anonymous blingmun said...

Re local units of government. How about devolving power to counties? People still identify themselves with counties (esp. if you regard London as an exceptionally large de-facto county). This in spite of decades of effort of the part of the political elites to stamp them out.

1/06/2012 01:47:00 pm  
Anonymous blindcyclists said...

Trying to fix national government by having a supranational government is like buying a torch because your lightbulb is broken.

1/06/2012 02:31:00 pm  
Blogger Lola said...

@jon,

The EU is not 'more' functional than the other supranational organisations you name. What it may be is slightly less dysfunctional than they are. That is they are all wildly dysfunctional and need rapidly shutting down.

NATO has though, worked quite well.

1/08/2012 09:56:00 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Testimonials

  • "The best British political/libertarian blog on the web. Consistently excellent but not for the squeamish."—Christopher Snowdon
  • "[He] runs the infamous and fantastically sweary Devil’s Kitchen blog, and because he’s one of the naughtiest geeks (second only to the incredibly, incredibly naughty Guido Fawkes) he’s right at the top of the evil dork hierarchy."—Charlotte Gore
  • "I met the Devil's Kitchen the other night. What a charming young man he is, and considerably modest too..."—Peter Briffa
  • "The Devil's Kitchen exposes hypocrisy everywhere, no holds barred."—Wrinkled Weasel
  • "People can still be controversial and influential whilst retaining integrity—Devil's Kitchen springs to mind—and attract frequent but intelligent comment."—Steve Shark, at B&D
  • "Sometimes too much, sometimes wrong, sometimes just too much but always worth a read. Not so much a blog as a force of nature."—The Nameless Libertarian
  • "The Devil's Kitchen—a terrifying blog that covers an astonishing range of subjects with an informed passion and a rage against the machine that leaves me in awe..."—Polaris
  • "He rants like no one else in the blogosphere. But it's ranting in an eloquent, if sweary, kind of way. Eton taught him a lot."—Iain Dale
  • "But for all that, he is a brilliant writer—incisive, fisker- extraordinaire and with an over developed sense of humour... And he can back up his sometimes extraordinary views with some good old fashioned intellectual rigour... I'm promoting him on my blogroll to a daily read."—Iain Dale
  • "... an intelligent guy and a brilliant writer..."—A Very British Dude
  • "... the glorious Devil's Kitchen blog—it's not for the squeamish or easily offended..."—Samizdata
  • "... a very, smart article... takes a pretty firm libertarian line on the matter."—Samizdata
  • "By the way, DK seems to be on fucking good form at the moment."—Brian Mickelthwait
  • "Perhaps the best paragraph ever written in the history of human creation. It's our Devil on fine form."—Vindico
  • "Devil's Kitchen is the big name on the free-market libertarian strand of the British blogosphere... Profane rants are the immediate stand-out feature of DK's blog, but the ranting is backed up by some formidable argument on a wide range of issues particularly relating to British and European parliamentary politics, economics, and civil liberties."—Question That
  • "... an excellent, intelligent UK political blog which includes a great deal of swearing."—Dr Aubrey Blumsohn
  • "I like the Devil's Kitchen. I think it's one of the best written and funniest blogs in the business."—Conservative Party Reptile
  • "The. Top. UK. Blogger."—My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
  • "For sheer intelligence, erudition and fun, Iain Dale's Diary, Cranmer and Devil's Kitchen are so far ahead of the rest I don't see how they can figure in a top ten. They are the Beatles, Stones and Who of the blog world; the Astair, Bogart and Marlon Brando of the blog world; the Gerswin, Porter and Novello of the blog world; the Dot Cotton, Pat Butcher, Bette Lynch of the blog world..."—Wrinkled Weasel
  • "It's the blogging equivalent of someone eating Ostrich Vindaloo, washed down by ten bottles of Jamaican hot pepper sauce and then proceeding to breathe very close to your face while talking about how lovely our politicians are... But there's much more to his writing than four letter words."—Tom Tyler
  • "God bless the Devil's Kitchen... Colourful as his invective is, I cannot fault his accuracy."—Tom Paine
  • "The Devil's Kitchen is a life-affirming, life-enhancing blog ... This particular post will also lead you to some of the best soldiers in the army of swearbloggers of which he is Field Marshal."—The Last Ditch
  • "... underneath all the ranting and swearing [DK]'s a very intelligent and thoughtful writer whom many people ... take seriously, despite disagreeing with much of what he says."—Not Saussure
  • "... the most foul-mouthed of bloggers, Devils Kitchen, was always likely to provoke (sometimes disgust, but more often admiration)."—The Times Online
  • "The always entertaining Mr Devil's Kitchen..."—The Times's Comment Central
  • "Frankly, this is ranting of the very highest calibre."—The Nameless Libertarian
  • "I don't mean it literally, or even metaphorically. I just find that his atheism aside, I agree with everything the Devil (of Kitchen fame...) says. I particularly enjoy his well crafted and sharp swearing, especially when addressed at self righteous lefties..."—The Tin Drummer
  • "Spot on accurate and delightful in its simplicity, Devil's Kitchen is one of the reasons that we're not ready to write off EUroweenie-land just yet. At least not until we get done evacuating the ones with brains."—Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
  • "This hugely entertaining, articulate, witty Scottish commentator is also one of the most foul-mouthed bloggers around. Gird up your loins and have a look. Essential reading."—Doctor Crippen
  • "The Devil's Kitchen is one of the foremost blogs in the UK. The DK is bawdy, foul-mouthed, tasteless, vulgar, offensive and frequently goes beyond all boundaries of taste and decency. So why on earth does Dr Crippen read the DK? Because he reduces me to a state of quivering, helpless laughter."—Doctor Crippen's Grand Rounds
  • "DK is a take-no-prisoners sort of libertarian. His blog is renowned for its propensity for foul-mouthed invective, which can be both amusing and tiresome by turns. Nevertheless, he is usually lucid, often scintillating and sometimes illuminating."—Dr Syn
  • "If you enjoy a superior anti-Left rant, albeit one with a heavy dash of cursing, you could do worse than visit the Devil's Kitchen. The Devil is an astute observer of the evils of NuLabour, that's for sure. I for one stand converted to the Devil and all his works."—Istanbul Tory
  • "... a sick individual."—Peter Briffa
  • "This fellow is sharp as a tack, funny as hell, and—when something pisses him off—meaner than a badger with a case of the bullhead clap."—Green Hell
  • "Foul-mouthed eloquence of the highest standard. In bad taste, offensive, immoderate and slanderous. F***ing brilliant!—Guest, No2ID Forum
  • "a powerfully written right-of-center blog..."—Mangan's Miscellany
  • "I tend to enjoy Devil's Kitchen not only because I disagree with him quite a lot of the time but because I actually have to use my brain to articulate why."—Rhetorically Speaking
  • "This blog is currently slamming. Politics certainly ain't all my own. But style and prose is tight, fierce, provocative. And funny. OK, I am a child—swear words still crack a laugh."—Qwan
  • "hedonistic, abrasive but usually good-natured..."—The G-Gnome
  • "10,000 words per hour blogging output... prolific or obsessive compulsive I have yet to decide..."—Europhobia
  • "a more favoured blog from the sensible Right..."—Great Britain...
  • "Devils Kitchen, a right thinking man indeed..."—EU Serf
  • "an excellent blog..."—Rottweiler Puppy
  • "Anyone can cuss. But to curse in an imaginative fashion takes work."—Liftport Staff Blog
  • "The Devil's Kitchen: really very funny political blog."—Ink & Incapability
  • "I've been laffing fit to burst at the unashamed sweariness of the Devil's Kitchen ~ certainly my favourite place recently."—SoupDragon
  • "You can't beat the writing and general I-may-not-know-about-being-polite-but-I-know-what-I-like attitude."—SoupDragon
  • "Best. Fisking. Ever. I'm still laughing."—LC Wes, Imperial Mohel
  • "Art."—Bob
  • "It made me laugh out loud, and laugh so hard—and I don't even get all the references... I hope his politics don't offend you, but he is very funny."—Furious, WoT Forum
  • "DK himself is unashamedly right-wing, vitriolic and foul mouthed, liberally scattering his posts with four-letter-words... Not to be read if you're easily offended, but highly entertaining and very much tongue in cheek..."—Everything Is Electric
  • "This blog is absolutely wasted here and should be on the front page of one of the broadsheets..."—Commenter at The Kitchen
  • "[This Labour government] is the most mendacious, dishonest, endemically corrupt, power-hungry, incompetent, illiberal fucking shower of shits that has ruled this country..."—DK

Blogroll

Campaign Links

All: Daily Reads (in no particular order)

Politics (in no particular order)

Climate Change (in no particular order)

General & Humour (in no particular order)

Mac,Design Tech & IT (in no particular order)