Monday, 27 July 2015
The Means of the End of Means as Means: Part 2
It is an unwritten policy of your humble correspondent that this blog should never become a political one. Come to think of it, none of my policies are written down. In fact, I don't really have any policies as such. Just vague things I try and do/avoid doing. Maybe I should write up a Made-Up Things Grand Constitution? After all, in the very near future when this blog has exploded into a vast media empire comprising hundreds of writers, editors, sub-editors, assistant sub-editors, junior assistants to the assistant junior sub-editor etc, etc, I’ll almost certainly need written policies to keep everyone on message.
Anyway, it is my intention to avoid making this into a political blog, and I'm going to maintain that intention. However, this post may stray rather near the line, so I’m going to try and be careful, and can only apologise if it appears that I am being partisan in any way. I have no particular investment in or loyalty to any one political party. I’m one of those ‘floating voters’ who change which party they’re voting for on an election-by-election basis. This being the case, hopefully I am reasonably impartial.
This post isn’t, as the title suggests, so much a part 2 as an addendum to part 1, since this is something I meant to mention in the first post, but forgot to. However, recent news stories have reminded me about it, so here it is.
Last week, our former Prime Minister, Tony Blair warned that if the far-left candidate Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour party leadership, Labour would become unelectable. Now, for all I know, he may very well be correct. Indeed, the fact that the Conservative party won the recent General Election suggests that currently the majority view is to the right, and that therefore a Labour party that adheres to more left-leaning policies won’t get into power.
But then, I have to ask, what here is the ends, and what here is the means? It seems to me that the idea of politics is that an individual or party should want to get into power so that they can do what they believe is right for their community/constituency/party/country. In theory, enough people will agree with them about what is right that they will vote them in. Increasingly though, it seems like the means has become the ends. Certainly Mr Blair appears to be suggesting that the Labour party ought to do what they believe people want so that they can get into power, irrespective of whether or not they believe it to be correct.
Power ought to be the means to the end of helping people. Helping people now appears to be the means to the end of getting into power, and I think that this typifies exactly what is wrong, not just with British politics, but with democracy in general. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m very much with Churchill when he said that democracy is absolutely the worst system of government there is, except for all the other ones we’ve tried. It is very much worth remembering that it is not the panacea and source of all earthly happiness that we are sometimes led to believe it is, when we try and spread democracy across the globe. Democracy is just as much subject to the human tendency to turn means into ends as any other the other examples I mentioned in part 1. However, because it affects so many more people, it is far more serious when this happens.
It might very well be that by electing Mr. Corbyn as leader, the Labour party will render itself unelectable, but at least they will be doing things the right way round, and adhering to their principles (or at least the principles of the majority of party members), and this to me seems far better and far more worthy than doing whatever you can, regardless of whether it runs against your personal principles or not, so that you can enjoy having power for its own sake.