Did the UK Independent actually say democracy isn't working?

By Catte

d
Yes. It did. or at least it published a WaPo piece (by “Emily Badger”), which says exactly that, albeit in slightly more MiniTrue wording.

“Brexit reminds us some things are too important to be decided by the people…”

Let’s just look at a screen cap to make sure we aren’t imagining things…
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 13.00.02
Yup, there it is. Right there. Voting, you see, is now “messy”….

Since British voters elected to leave the European Union, signs have quickly emerged of the flaws in holding a referendum on such a messy, massive, far-reaching decision….”

She then cites an example of this “messiness” – viz. Boris Johnson’s allegedly overturned “promise” of £350 million to the NHS. Which is an odd example really, since the only obvious conclusion to draw from it is not “voting is messy” but that Boris Johnson is a liar. Are we really supposed to be blaming the electorate for believing what he said (supposing they did, I’ve yet to see any data on that)?
For Emily’s next bullet point she predictably pushes the entirely ridiculous media-created narrative of “regrexit”, which tries to make plausible the ridiculous idea that large numbers of voters only checked the Leave box out of spite or peevishness or because they left their glasses at home or something, and are now mortified because of all the terrible things that have happened since, such as…well, the market dipping quite a bit,and then going back up a bit. That story and accompanying hashtag might have sounded like a good idea in the anti-Brexit focus group at 4am on June 24, but in the cold light of day it just looks what it is – desperate and sad. As does this…

The process looks like direct democracy in its purest form, and it was celebrated as such by many Leave campaigners after the vote. But David A. Bell, a Princeton historian writing in The New Republic four years ago as Greece was preparing for a referendum on its bailout, argues that the result is much more often anti-democratic.

Ah, this is the real meat of the message. Despite all outward appearance – she tells us – having a referendum is actually more “anti-democratic” than not having a referendum. I bet you didn’t know that, right? But it’s true. David A. Bell from Princeton is very clear about it.

He divides referendums into two categories: The first implicates fundamental questions of sovereignty (should Quebec become independent, or Scotland break away from Great Britain?). These kinds of referendums are appropriate, Bell argues: “They represent instances when sovereign power, always ultimately held by the people, but mediated by constitutional structures, temporarily reverts to the people directly, so that they can modify or replace these structures….Then there are referendums about questions that would otherwise be handled by the legislatures the people have already elected…”

You see? There are two kinds of referendums. Those about “questions of sovereignty”, such as should Scotland leave the UK, which are ok, and those about other issues that the legislature should decide for themselves…such as whether the UK should leave the EU…?
Hmm…. But never mind that sort of detail. The important thing is – and we really need to get on board with this –

…however much the designers of referendums claim to be acting in the name of democratic reform, their actions usually end up undercutting democratic institutions. This tendency isn’t merely incidental—it’s unavoidable given how referendums work…

Oh. Thank you Emily. It’s so obvious now. Referendums are undemocratic because they “undercut democratic institutions.” That is to say, they allow the people to overturn decisions made by their elected leaders. Which is wrong. Because once you elect a leader you have to do whatever they tell you.
Forgive me if I don’t bother dissecting the rest of Ms Badger’s discourse, but it’s really not worth it. We can already see where this, and other such pieces, is going, can’t we. You can be pretty sure in the post-Brexit summer soirées in Islington and Hampstead the media classes are already telling each other over their chilled wine that “populism” is not the same as democracy, and that uninformed people can’t be trusted to make the right decisions, which sort of means – when you think about it the right way and have swilled back enough booze – that real democracy is only undermined at the ballot box.
These scions of the fascist pseudo-left won’t – ever – admit to themselves this is garbage, because any journalists and columnists with that much honesty and self-awareness have long since been weeded out and consigned to the alternate media or lone blogging. Those stalwarts left on Fleet Street are mostly, if not all, capable of believing anything they want to believe – and of getting behind any agenda they’re paid to endorse.
So, watch out while “progressive” columnists start labelling voting “unfair”, or “dangerous”, or even “undemocratic”. The first thing to go will be referendums – obviously, because plebiscites are the most direct and raw form of democracy possible. Once you remove those you only need to make sure – as they mostly already do – that all the candidates offered at elections are basically the same product in a different box, and you’re good. Real democracy is dead. Democracy the hashtag has taken its place.
Which is of course why as a corollary Jeremy Corbyn absolutely has to be removed before the next general election. Because he just might stand on a platform offering real alternatives for the growing majority who want off the mad NATO/EU/IMF death train before it hurtles over the approaching cliff.
Actually there is one more part of this execrable little Indy/WaPo piece worth mentioning. It even cites the totally discredited – not to say hilarious – “2nd referendum petition” without criticism or caveat:
Screen-Shot-2016-06-28-at-13.02.43
This is the new normal of journalistic accuracy. Citing a petition that is known to have no controls over multiple posting or voter fraud, that has upwards of 50,000 combined signatories from North Korea, the Antractic and the Vatican City, as if it were something credible.
So, there we have it. Democracy is undemocratic, and factual accuracy is just boring.
It’s pathetic, Indy. You really – really – ought to feel ashamed to the very depths of your soul that this rubbish is anywhere on your pages. The fact you don’t feel shame is not something to be smug about. It tells you how absolutely you have left your ethics behind.

OffG co-founding editor. Writer. Opinionated polemicist.

Filed under: Brexit, latest, Other Media

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OffG co-founding editor. Writer. Opinionated polemicist.

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pendancesite
Reader

Democracy has never existed. Capitalism, Communism, Socialism,etc., etc., etc., has never existed. Government has and does exist. But government can’t be called Government without calling it by it’s full name. That is Corrupted-Totalitarian-Government-By-The-Few. That has and does exist. Another ism that also has existed is and does exist is Totalitarianism. All Governments are Totalitarian. Corrupted-Totalitarian-Government-By-The-Few is the number one and main tool of the tyrant(s)! Another characteristic of Corrupted-Totalitarian-Government-By-The-Few is that it is not static. It gets more oppressive, impoverishing, and murdering as time goes on. Another characteristic of Corrupted-Totalitarian-Government-By-The-Few is that one of the main reasons that it needs… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

They do have the guns, so to speak, and will not forfeit them unless compelled to do so. And ‘we’ have the numbers but if only ‘we’ were more awake in sufficient numbers to our collective predicament. So we are not going to get where we need to get without first waging an ideological, or if you will, an educational battle. If people are eventually to earnestly take up the fight in their own behalf, they need to have en masse a basic idea of what they would be fighting for and who their real opponents are. That comes to… Read more »

tezla valve
Reader
tezla valve

Thanks for your reply Norman. I get the impression that many people consider Marx’s criticism of capitalism to be good, even those ‘of the right’, but like Bakunin, he seems a little underwhelming when it comes to a solution. I must admit, like a right-winger I have become very skeptical of ‘big government’, not because it is neccesarilly evil of itself, but because when our rulers are evil it makes tyranny more effective. I have looked at centre-right bloggers opinions on some things. Below the line, the commenters seemed a bit annoyed that the left perpetually accused them of being… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

Hi Tezla, “Do you think an uncorrupted form of capitalism is possible, perhaps without the casino element, redistributive taxation, effective anti-monopoly legislation and all the corruption?” The short answer: an uncorrupted from of capitalism is impossible. Since you seem to be intent on having a discussion with me, personally, let me refer you to a few posts, the titles of which you can enter in the ‘search box’ at my blog: “Reading Marx: Where Does Profit Come From? (And Why The ‘Rate of Profit’ Must Fall) — Norman Pilon | Taking Sides” In this essay, I try to set out… Read more »

rtj1211
Reader
rtj1211

Really, you shouldn’t put up UK journalists as some nirvana of academic wisdom. Honestly if they were a top academic they’d be in post in Oxford, LSE or wherever. Secondly, you shouldn’t think that academics are dispassionate voices of reason and logic. They are voices controlled by who they receive grant income from or consultancy fees from. The notion that academics aren’t salesmen is risible: the only question is whether they are ethical ones or dodgy ones. As for Referenda ‘undermining democratic institutions’, please tell me how on earth the House of Commons is ‘democratic’. It has a voting system… Read more »

Catte
Reader

Well, all I can say is if anyone thinks this piece, or I personally, or OffGuardian in general, “puts up UK journalists as some Nirvana of academic wisdom”, we have seriously been failing to get our message across 🙂

Moscow Exile
Reader

Democracy? Check out the opinion of Russian “liberal” Yulia Latynina, “opposition” polemicist, journalist and Radio Station Moscow Echo commenter, who, in 2008, received the Freedom Defenders Award from the United States Department of State, which was handed over to her by Condoleezza Rice: Poor people are capable of feats of bravery and revolution. They can storm the Bastille, overthrow the tsar or stage an Orange Revolution. But impoverished people are incapable of making sober decisions and voting responsibly in a popular election. And this, unfortunately, applies to Russia as well. In the unfair presidential election of 2000, Vladimir Putin emerged… Read more »

Peter Schmidt
Reader
Peter Schmidt

I think the plan is to play dumb and hope Brexit will go away. Though careful what you wish for. What about if next time the young asks for a referendum on the exit of Britain from NATO.

David G Turco
Reader
David G Turco

No it just said that it doesn’t WANT democracy to work, that’s all. Oh yeah and they are all in on Hillary.

A freeman
Reader
A freeman

Thank You, Off-Guardian & Catte, for this wonderfully inciteful piece of actual honest journalism. It makes me happy to see in print what I and many others think. Personally, I never thought I’d see the day that the british public would be so incensed as to bring forth the real possibility of open revolt against their masters – I mean, civil servants(hah! I just can’t say the latter without an involuntary laugh of irony), but if we DON’T now leave then the ramifications of such open disregard of democracy by our ‘peers'(hah!) will, I firmly believe, result in blood in… Read more »

Mike Parr
Reader

The referendum was advisory it has no legal force
It was close (what about the +/- 48% that want to remain? do they you know – move to the EU?)
large lies were told
one person was murdered – incited by the MSM
Only parliament has the authority to invoke article 50
given the closeness of the vote perhaps parliament should not (invoke article 50)

Seamus Padraig
Reader
Seamus Padraig

Inday/WaPo: Some pigs are more equal than others!

Derek
Reader
Derek

Catte. May I just say how much I enjoy your writing. It should be you writing for the Independent, and it should be Emily Badger writing in a small unregarded corner of the internet. But Hey Ho, at the rate the Independent is losing readers, OffGuardian will soon have the larger readership.
It does make one wonder how these columnists manage to get their jobs in the first place.

Catte
Reader

Well, thank you Derek. I’m honoured.

Seamus Padraig
Reader
Seamus Padraig

I agree with him, Catte. Brilliant work! It’s so gratifying to see Off-Guardian reaching an ever-larger audience, and the hard work–and high quality work–of the authors here is the key reason why. Keep it up!

Norman Pilon
Reader

I agree, Catte and a great many others ought to be mainstream, and perhaps they are in fact more representative of the majority than we realize, only not in the capitalist press, which, backed up by all of the earth’s stolen treasure in the guise of private ownerhsip, exerts itself to create the illusion that the majority is either fascist or at happily one with the culture of bourgeois of oppression. So really it is not to wonder how ‘these’ columnists manage to get their jobs. There is this thing called a ‘job interview,’ to which people like Catte would… Read more »

ragheadthefiendlyterrorist
Reader

If Brexit is sabotaged successfully, it will be the final erasure of democracy in favour of corporatocracy. The arrant hypocrites of the so called centre-left, anywhere in the world, are conscience-less servants of the pay cheque, utterly without ideology and more than willing to do anything at all to look good in the eyes of their peers. Even the ideological stance of the far right, reprehensible as it might be, is at least an ideology; the neo-Nazis of Pravii Sektor, the Hindunazis of the Bajrang Dal, the headchoppers of ISIS – they’re gutter scum, but they are by and large… Read more »

reinertorheit
Reader
reinertorheit

I really wouldn’t get too worried about it. The Indy isn’t really a newspaper at all. Since the cessation of the print edition, the Indy is just a blog these days. It’s the vanity project of the Lebedev family. Without their dodgy money to prop it up, the Indy would have gone to the wall ten years ago – not even advertisers believe circulation figures straight out of Jack & The Beanstalk. Even without the costs of having to print all those copies to throw away, the Indy’s income from advertising doesn’t begin to pay the staff costs. But wait,… Read more »

joekano76
Reader

Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth.

Brian Harry, Australia
Reader
Brian Harry, Australia

“The issues are too important to be left to the voters”……..Henry Kissinger.

Willem
Reader
Willem

Thanks for sharing and criticizing this article from “Emily Badger”. This article made me angry. Which is not really helping as in anger I lose my ability to rationally deduce the facism that is all over this article and the disdain of the journalist to those who dared to vote Brexit. So thank you, Catte, for scrutizing this article for us who read OffGuardian. I try to be helpfull in this comment by quoting and briefly summarizing two books that do not use the ‘fascist’ word (which kind of lost meaning as it has been used so often, and almost… Read more »

Richard Le Sarcophage
Reader
Richard Le Sarcophage

One might follow Popper and pretend that there is not an hierarchy or distribution of intelligence, knowledge, morality etc, and pretend that humanity is equal in fitness to decide who should rule, but for one or two complicating matters. In mass societies of millions, we must have representatives, and they, as we can see now with the Blairite infestation, are prone to certain defects of character. To be precise, unscrupulousness, untrustworthiness, mendacity, hypocrisy, subservience to the real, the economic, power in society etc. Moreover the voting public are relentlessly brainwashed in the habits of greed, jingoism, downward social envy and… Read more »

Empire Of Stupid
Reader

So that was the problem, we should have had a referendum (preferendum?) to decide whether the question posed by the referendum was referendum-worthy. Now it all makes sense.
Nice piece Catte!

reinertorheit
Reader
reinertorheit

The Guardian have moved onto the next phase in the delusion – now discussing whether the Second Referendum should be held, with no mention of its legal standing, nor even of why a second referendum should take precedence over the first one.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/live/2016/jun/29/should-we-have-a-second-eu-referendum-live
Contributors include Tristram Hunt, and Labour MP David Lammy.

Richard Le Sarcophage
Reader
Richard Le Sarcophage

I like the idea of having a second England versus Iceland football match, too. But only so the Icelanders can flog the English again.

Norman Pilon
Reader

Another good one, Catte. On a side note, and because you mention it in passing, Catte, does anyone know whether this take by the “Heatstreat” website has any merit (I know I’m being repetitive, and I do apologize, since I already signaled it in another comment): “EXCLUSIVE: Brexit ‘2nd Referendum Petition’ A 4 Chan Prank: BBC Report It As Real” https://heatst.com/uk/exclusive-brexit-2nd-referendum-petition-a-4-chan-prank-bbc-report-it-as-real/ The post itself may be a prank, but then again “4 Chan” tends to attract some pretty creative pranksters. It strikes me as being just the sort of thing that they would undertake and pull off just for the… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

Okay, as far as I can tell, after a bit of shallow excavation, the petition is, in a manner of speaking, legit, meaning that it itself was not a 4Chan offspring. However, the petition seems to have been hijacked by ‘spam bots,’ which is where 4Chan possibly comes in. But I guess the upshot is that the “petition” isn’t worth “the digital code” in which it was written. I will now lay this thing to rest, but not without one more tear of appreciation, regardless of who managed the hijacking.

tezla valve
Reader
tezla valve

Have you come across the Kalergi Plan, Norman? A random blog on it here: https://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2015/11/12/europes-refugee-crisis-and-the-kalergi-plan-for-white-genocide/ There are quite a few sources out there, if this one is dodgy. I suppose it could be a bit of ‘Protocols of the Elders’ type stuff, but it has the ring of truth to it. Ever looked into it? If it is true, and Brexiters find themselves needing to defend their position in another referendum, this would make a good counter-arguement against those who cry ‘waythist.’ The Graun’s published two articles on one piece of racist graffitti. A few below the line have questioned… Read more »

Richard Le Sarcophage
Reader
Richard Le Sarcophage

I did like the bit about Europe becoming populated by bestial sub-humans bred through miscegenation. Noble stuff, indeed.

Norman Pilon
Reader

All the talk about breeding is what I found disorienting. You know, that kind of chatter tends to get my attention, and then I just can’t draw my mind away from it, so that if what I’m reading is trying to make a serious and clinical point, it just no longer stands a chance of getting through to me. (Gynecology is not a profession that I could in good conscience ethically have practiced, at least not without undergoing many expensive years of strenuous psychoanalysis, being, as I am, a man of uncouth blue collar origins. So although I knew, as… Read more »

Richard Le Sarcophage
Reader
Richard Le Sarcophage

It looks like it’s infectious, some sort of transmissible meme, perhaps a type of ethereal prion or virus that once seen, twists your neurons into contorted tangles, and next thing you know it’s the Horst Wessel song blaring out of your ‘sound system’ and ‘Triumph of the Will’ on the DVD player. I seem to recall Dr Who being similarly infected and growing Oscar Homulka eye-brows. He ended up having to wrestle with the infectious agent inside his own brain, I think. I do hope you are spared that indignity.

Norman Pilon
Reader

Better to be a victim of the Kalergi Plan, I think, than the sort of thing that resulted from the mania for the Horst Wessel mania of the 30s and 40s. I mean, death by miscegenation, how terrible of an experience could that really be? Imagine the collective shock in the aftermath of the discovery of that “genocide.” How would ‘we,’ how could ‘we,’ commemorate that? There would be no graves upon which to lay flowers, no concentration camps to visit, no novels à la Elie Wiesel, although perhaps a great many diaries to which the lurid details of the… Read more »

tezla valve
Reader
tezla valve

Hello Norman, and apologies for not replying earlier (I work long shifts.) I think it may be neccessary to clarify, including why I addressed the question to you in the first place. I am aware that ‘white genocide’ is generally the subject of right-wing extremist websites, but I originally heard it mentioned on C.i.f. Firstly I’ll make my general politcal position clear (which I expect no one to agree with.) I am of the opinion that capitalism-checks and balances-democracy=fascism. You may agree on that. I also, however, believe that communism, which combines state control with the means of production, is… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

Hi Tezla, I’ll be straight up with you: if I was boxed into a corner and had to put a label on my socio-political viewpoint, I’d say it would be best characterized as being Marxist, albeit not an orthodox or dogmatic one, but as the mindset of someone who had read some of what Marx wrote about capitalism and who had thereupon came to the conclusion that Marx had a better sense of what man as a social creature is than anyone else he had ever read, as well as also having had a better take on the ascendant kind… Read more »

Norman Pilon
Reader

Ah, the ring of “truth.” How much of what is bouncing around inside this head of mine rings true but is pure delusion? I wish I only knew . . . Have I come across the Kalergi Plan? No, I can’t say that I have. A brief look at the random blog to which you have referred me caused my eyebrows to involuntarily rise. I don’t identify as being either of this or that “race,” but as human, and since I regard all people, whatever the melanin content of their skin, the impending disappearance, if it really is impending, of… Read more »

Catte
Reader

Norman, you are a quiet and subtle genius of wit 🙂

Norman Pilon
Reader

At first, when I read your comment, I blushed. But then it occurred to me that you are the queen of ‘tongue in cheekness.’ I then went pale . . . 😉

Catte
Reader

No tongue in cheek I promise. I mean it in all sincerity.

SK
Reader
SK

spoken from the heart and based on hard cold logic and common sense. Main stream media is now a toilet full of smelly crap who pose as journalists and editors. Keep up the good work Off-Guardian. common sense is not dead yet!

robert11011
Reader

Reblogged this on robert11011's Blog.

Chris Rogers
Reader

catte,
Sorry if my language offends, and I am working class after all and someone who voted out on principle as a socialist, but these people are fucking idiots and fascists. I’ll leave it there, but God they have no bloody idea and expect us Plebs to bow to them. They can bugger off as we say in Wales.

Roger
Reader
Roger

Your language most heartily approved, except that maybe it is not strong enough….