cc: The Electoral Commission and Member of Parliament
BBC – Action Network – – A11176977 – Voter Apathy. Protest Vote. Right Or Left Swings.
Important Civilisations. Bertrand Russell
‘In general, important civilisations start with a rigid and superstitious system, gradually relaxed, and leading, at a certain stage to a period of brilliant genius, while the good of the old tradition remains and the evil inherent in its dissolution has not yet developed. But as the evil unfolds, it leads to anarchy, thence, inevitably, to a new tyranny, producing a new synthesis secured by a new system of dogma. The doctrine of liberalism is an attempt to escape from endless oscillation. The essence of liberalism is an attempt to secure a social order not based on irrational dogma, and insuring stability without involving more restraints than are necessary for the preservation of the community. Whether this attempt can succeed only the future can determine’.
By Bertrand Russell, ‘The History of Western Philosophy’.
The Political Surrogate. By Aldous Huxley
Perhaps the most important substitute for religion is politics. Extreme nationalism presents its devotees with a god to be worshipped – the Country – together with much inspiring ritual of a mainly military kind. In most countries and for most of their inhabitants nationalism is a spasmodic faith, of which the believers are only occasionally conscious. But where the state is weak and in danger, where men are oppressed by a foreign ruler, it becomes an unflagging enthusiasm. Even in countries where there is no sense of inferiority to be compensated, where there are no immediate dangers and no oppressors, the nationalist substitute for religion is often continuously inspiring. I have met some few admirable men and women for whom unlike Nurse Cavell, patriotism was quite enough. The country was to be served and worshipped. They asked, as far as I could discover, for no other god. The only universe of which they demanded an explanation was the universe of politics. And with what a simple, unpretentious explanation even of that they were contented!
Extreme democracy has as many devotees as extreme nationalism; and among those devotees there are probably more chronic enthusiasts than are to be found among the patriots. As a substitute for religion, extreme democracy is more adequate than nationalism; for it covers more ground, at any rate as a doctrine. For revolutionary democracy is a forward – looking faith. It preaches a future state – in this world, not another – when all the injustices of the present will be remedied, all the unhappiness compensated, when the first shall be last and the last first, and there shall be crowns for all and no more weeping, and practically no more work. Moreover, it is susceptible of a much more thorough philosophical treatment than nationalism. ‘My country right or wrong’ is a sentiment which cannot be completely rationalized. The only reason that any man has for loving and serving his country is the mere accident that it happens to be his. He knows that if he had been born somewhere else the object of his worship would have been different. Not the bulldog, but the cock or the eagle would have been his totem. Not Dr. Arne, but Haydn or Rouget de Lisle, would have hymned him into ecstasy. There can be no metaphysic of patriotism; it is just a raw, unalterable fact, which must be accepted as it is.
Democracy, on the other hand, does not vary from country to country; it is a universal and imperishable doctrine – for the poor are everywhere and at all times with us. The raw facts of misery, envy, and discontent can be rationalized in the most thorough – going fashion. To explain and justify the very natural desire of the poor and oppressed for freedom, wealth, and power a far – reaching system of metaphysics has been evolved.
The Christian doctrines of original sin and divine grace have been denied, and all the virtues and perfections of God have been lodged in humanity – not indeed as it is now (that would be too hard to swallow), but as it will be when freed from oppression and enlightened by education. This doctrine, although manifestly false, is a genuine religious explanation of the world, in terms of which it is possible, with a little judicious manipulation, to explain all the facts of human life. Doctrinally, then, revolutionary democracy is an excellent substitute for religion. When it comes to practice, however, it is less satisfying than nationalism.
For nationalism has a traditional and highly elaborate ritual of its own. Revolutionary democracy can offer nothing to compare with the royal processions, the military parades, the music pregnant with associations, the flags, the innumerable emblems, by means of which patriotic sentiment can be worked up and the real presence of the motherland made manifest to every beholder.