what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Can public trust be restored??

If this blog has had one theme in its four years’ of existence, it has been that of the increasing moral corruption of the European political class and the steady loss of public faith in democracy. Neo-liberalism is probably the main factor at work over the decades in which it has been active – but the trivialisation of the media through corporate interests also bears a heavy responsibility. At the moment, for example, the English newspapers are full of the sexual indiscretions of politicians and priests but virtually ignore the misdeed of financiers and the sort of lobbying which lies behind most legislation. It is not just the public who find it difficult to follow the intricacies of finance – but virtually all journalists! And a vast apparatus of audit and scrutiny both in parliaments and in independent bodies - set up in efforts to hold power accountable - has been shown to be useless and toothless. Political research of the 1950s warned of what the academic economists have (typically) renamed "regulatory capture"!

Citizens are now being urged to take events into their own hands; be an independent force in parliaments (as in the weekend’s outcome in Italy); be given constitutional powers to place legislation before parliament and to hold Ministers to account.
Bulgaria is a typical example. The article I quoted from on Sunday put it like this -
There have to be checks on political power and mechanisms to prevent collusion between politicians, private economic interests and organised crime.
Protesters are currently calling for a Constituent Assembly to be formed to change the constitution and develop mechanisms of direct involvement of citizens in government matters. There have been proposals of specific measures to be taken such as: cutting the number of members of parliament to 240; stripping them of immunity; establishing procedures for early dismissal; establishing 50 percent citizens' controlling quota in state institutions.
In short, a new system has to be established in which elected officials do what they are elected to do, and citizens are close enough to them to make sure they do it.
I was intrigued to learn at the weekend that the Bulgarian protestors were basing their proposals for radical political and constitutional change on the “Icelandic model” and I have been doing some research to try to answer two questions - 
  • What bits of the new Icelandic Constitution are relevant to the citizens of countries wishing to have a political class which might be said to represent the public interest rather than financial, business and its own interests?? 
  • where else can we find experience which can help those now engaged in such an exploration? 
Watch this space!

A year ago I was suggesting we needed a new language of political change
The painting is Stanley Spencer's "The Adoration of Old Men"

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