Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Iron Lady

I've been wondering for a while now, what aspects of culture foster direct democracy? If the Swiss can do it, why do some people think Brits can't?
One argument is that the Swiss are better educated. But they've been doing direct democracy for 150 years: back then no one was as well educated as the average person today, so we should be more than capable.
Perhaps it's their national service that binds them into a cohesive society? Or their multilingualism that breeds flexibility of thought?
Or perhaps it's our welfare culture that makes us expect to be looked after rather than look after ourselves? Or our aristocratic history that makes us look to an authority for answers?
Is it the political system that creates the culture or the culture that creates the political system?
"The Iron Lady" provides some historical perspective on our culture. In the film, the retired Margaret Thatcher makes two comments about how culture has changed. To paraphrase her, she says "People used to want to do something, now they want to be something"; and "People used to want to know what you thought, now they want to know how you feel". These sentences seem to me to capture some of our changing culture.
Interactive Democracy is more about doing than being. It empowers political activism. And it is more rational than emotional for the simple reason that to advocate your perspective, it's a good idea to explain it. But, on the other hand, people can vote using instinct if they wish.

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