For a number of years I felt that the EU was drifting from democracy to plutocracy, this drift has in my view had a discernible effect on our own parliament. Before I make my point I thought it might be helpful to define the meaning of plutocracy and democracy.
The word plutocracy comes from the Greek words ploutos meaning wealth and kratos meaning power or rule. The Wikipedia definition of Plutocracy is ‘a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens.’
The word democracy again comes from Greek, and means rule of the commoners. The Oxford English dictionary defines democracy as ‘a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation.’
Our media and our politicians constantly remind us we live in a democracy. In many ways this is true, we hold regular elections, parties and leaders come and go depending on the outcome. More recently we have seen a number of referenda, most recently the referendum over membership of the European Union. Our system has its flaws but I do feel it is one of the better ones in the world.
Yet when you think a little bit more deeply all is not well in our democracy. If our system was applied as it is defined then no one has more of a say in how we are governed than anyone else, that is no vote carries more weight than any other. However openly and in plain sight the wealthy and powerful enjoy special access to government. For some reason we have been conditioned into accepting this, that somehow this is the normal course of events, nothing unusual or unacceptable.
I am not one for conspiracy theories being a firm believer that humans can stuff up the most simple of plans. Nonetheless I do feel I need to borrow from one to illustrate a point. Many of you would have heard of the financier George Soros. Mr. Soros is a Hungarian with American citizenship. He has had a brilliant career in the finance markets, by most accounts he is a wealthy man indeed. Personally I have no real issue with people that work hard seeing the fruits of their labour – although I think making billions is probably way out of proportion to the achievement, I doubt the people that find a cure for cancer will see anything like that.
No, my problem with the wealthy elite such as Mr. Soros is this; he has direct influence over the way I am ruled because of his wealth – which is a bit bizarre when you consider that if we do live in a democracy I’m the one with a vote not him (he has no vote in the UK).
It is not just the access he enjoys to our elected politicians; it is his worrying ability to fund think tanks and charities that promote only his opinion. Our media seem only too willing to adopt his world view as some kind of truth when it is not, it is his opinion and that is all it is. The current narrative over the ‘migrant crisis’ is the imposition of his will trampling on the democratic will of the people – not just here but across Europe. However much you may agree with him have you not perhaps considered that your acceptance means the wealthy can pretty much impose anything else they wish to? Go down this path and you can be sure that one day something you do oppose will be forced upon you.
This problem is not confined to Mr. Soros; you may recall that after the EU referendum Richard Branson was granted access to make his case to overturn the outcome. Now think about this, a wealthy man is permitted access to the highest levels of government to demand they ignore the democratic will of the people. In terms of fairness, was a nurse from Boston who voted for Brexit invited in to make her case for why the result must stand and we leave the EU? I don’t remember that happening. Yet no alarm bells started ringing with our media or political commentators, the Branson story was reported as though he had some special right to do this. Can anyone point me in the direction of the piece of legislation that grants him this special right?
We seem to be operating on a razor’s edge between democracy and plutocracy. Brexit I would argue has given us the opportunity to examine how we are governed. We can keep ourselves on the right side of democracy but it needs us all to challenge the insidious nature of would be plutocrats. We cannot rely on our journalists and political commentators to do this, we have to do this ourselves – after all, why is it that nobodies like me seem to be the only people asking these questions?