'The 2016 vote for Brexit, and the political establishment’s increasingly unhinged reaction to it, revealed many things about life, society and politics in the early 21st century. But perhaps Brexit’s most important revelation, its most enlivening revelation, has been this: that democracy remains the most revolutionary political idea of all.
Still. Two millennia after it first crossed men’s minds. A couple of hundred years after it was instituted in a meaningful way in Western nations. And one hundred years after working-class men and some women in the UK finally won the franchise. Even after all of that, still no political idea is as disturbing to the political elite as the one that says the woman who cleans their parliamentary office or their university lecture hall or their high-rise boardroom should have the exact same power as them when it comes to determining the political future of the nation.
It’s an idea that horrifies them. They cannot fathom that any civilised society would entertain it, not really. They kept their horror well-hidden for most of the postwar period, when democracy consisted of little more than ordinary people having a say once every four years over which party should run society. But with Brexit, when we used the franchise not simply to change the overseers of political life but to change political life itself, their horror at the temerity of the democratic ideal came back to life. And it has dominated political discourse ever since.
The elites have reorganised themselves almost entirely around their contempt for democracy. You see it all the time. In Richard Dawkins’ suggestion that there should be an IQ test for voting. In the House of Lords’ arrogant claim that it falls to them, in their unelected but well-educated wisdom, to thwart this thing the dim-witted public voted for. In the Labour Party’s manifesto-betraying embrace of the idea of a second referendum. In the liberal media’s undiluted fury with the throng which gives rise daily to raging missives against the ‘low-information’ public and open cries for government by expertise.'
Read more: Democracy: the unfinished revolution
Did you like this article?
Thank you for your vote!
From our advertisers
From our advertisers