Saturday, April 04, 2009

Harnessing the body politic

Reading Hopi Sen's excellent analysis of Peter Oborne's less than excellent analysis on Charlie Brooker's excellent program Newswipe I was struck by an important point, from Oborne:

"You go back a generation or two, the people who came into the commons, whether from the left of the right, the primary objective was to serve the country or serve their voters, not to make money for themselves.

What is new is that the majority of people now coming into Parliament have sought politics as a career since coming out of university… so what we see is the use of politics as a way of making huge sums of money".

The first assertion is bogus: what people, and politicians especially, really want is power. But there's nothing wrong with this, it's just how we're evolutionary wired.

The trick is to create a system of government that harnesses the inherent desire for power and competitive instincts of homo sapiens sapiens to constructive ends.

Democracy works because when it works properly it enables politicians to achieve power by giving the public what they think the public wants.

That this is an absurd impossibility is without doubt: but at least they're trying and at least they're accountable and at least they're so keen to stab each other in the back that they can very effectively police themselves.

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