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Ancient and modern

How MPs can shut the people up for good

Instead of electoral colleges, electoral ‘communities’

26 November 2016

9:00 AM

26 November 2016

9:00 AM

In the eyes of the bien-pensants, the election of Donald Trump and the vote on Brexit have brought democracy to an end, and a good thing too since the people are clearly incapable of appreciating what the bien-pensant has to offer. In this they are bang up to date with their rather mieux-pensants and certainly more literate peers from the 16th century onwards. They too were pondering the best political system, and looked aghast at the Athenian democratic model.

Typical of their responses was that such democracy was the usurping by ‘the popular or rascall and viler sort, because they be more in number’ (Thomas Smith); as ‘the seed of rashnes and lawless lust, [it] held the superioritie’ (Thomas Floyd); it was ‘the dominion of the mob, released from all law’; democrats are like those in ‘a phrensie, which causeth them to skip and daunce without ceasing’ (Jean Bodin); ‘so busied in their private concernments that they have no leisure’ to study politics and so be trusted with government (James Harrington); ‘[their] dispositions are sordid and ordinary applications illiberal’ (Adam Ferguson). So much for democracy.


Sparta, characterised by its famous eunomia (‘good order’) generated by strict oligarchic control, austere public upbringing and compulsory military training and service, seemed to some to offer a better example. One doubts the bien-pensants would thrill to that. Machiavelli (1513), however, was especially keen on the Roman system, and this was largely the 18th-century Enlightenment choice. True, the people did have a say in appointments of officials, but only in a collegiate voting system that effectively guaranteed victory for the upper classes. These upper-class officials made up the Senate which was the de facto law-making body. Result!

This clearly is where the bien-pensants need to go. Replace ‘colleges’ with their beloved ‘communities’ and assign everyone into a ‘community’. Carefully weight the voting power of each ‘community’ in accordance with bien-pensant opinions, and appoint MPs by that system. That should shut the ‘people’ up for good and ensure that only bien-pensant values, and no other, reign supreme.


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