Friday, October 25, 2013

Electoral Democracy - The West's Sacred Cow

As you're probably aware, just recently the comedian Russell Brand has created some waves in suggesting that people shouldn't vote. In his interview with Jeremy Paxman, he argued that the current electoral system only serves the power elite and corporations. I don't disagree with him. However it seems many are jumping on a bandwagon, criticising him for being a wrecker. They see him as only providing negativity, wanting to tear down the established system and replace it with '???'. Russell Brand isn't claiming to have all the answers, he is simply pointing out that our system is failing us. It is failing the environment, it is failing the poor, the dispossessed, and primarily serves entrenched political and economic powers.

I have seen people say that Russell Brand's suggestion to stop voting is "dumb" and "dangerous". Why might this be? Is voting for selected candidates of the political class the only legitimate form of political expression? Are we as a society unable to accommodate alternative forms of political expression, or are people just terrified that a non-voting mass movement may de-stabilise the status-quo? I see no problems with encouraging people to not vote when they have no representation in the political establishment. After all, electoral politics is only a small part of democratic engagement, though seeing the reaction to this suggestion you would assume it was the be all and end all.

We, in the West have deified electoral democracy. It is the god of our political system. Those that criticise its efficacy at providing the best outcomes like Russell Brand become pariahs to those that seek to maintain the current political establishment. Nothing should be beyond reproach in our discourse, all assumptions should be questioned, including electoral democracy. Brand is right in pointing out that we are destroying the environment, and electoral politics is not solving it, and no solutions are brewing on the horizon. Every international meeting to try and stop catastrophic global climate change has failed, often by design, our system is not providing us with the answers. Electoral democracy is a false god.

I stand with Brand.

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