‘Every nation gets the kind of government it deserves’ is one of those sayings everyone knows, but whose source few can identify.
Well, it was Joseph de Maistre, the brilliant if quirky political thinker whose views on the French Revolution made Edmund Burke sound like a Jacobin. From 1803 to 1817 de Maistre served as Sardinian envoy to the court of the Russian tsar Alexander I, and it’s at that country that he aimed his aphorism.
What was true about an absolute monarchy is even truer about a democracy, and truer still about the modern version of it. People cast their votes for parties that tell them something they want to hear. And what people want to hear is greatly affected by the kind of education imposed upon them by the same elite from which the candidates are drawn. There’s a circle there, and it can only be vicious.
Keep running inside that circle for a generation or two, and you get not democracy but spivocracy — the rule of those only out to feather their own nest. If by chance they drop a few feathers into others’ nests, then so be it. If not, that’s fine too. They are highly specialised creatures, our politicians, designed to do one thing only: get reelected. Bono publico be damned; it’s their own bono they pursue.
Just look at the way they handle the economy. First one set of spivs spend the country into an economic disaster — all in the name of looking after the less fortunate. This is the shorthand for robbing the more fortunate, which is to say most of us, but we don’t mind. We’ve been taught to accept virtual language as real. We don’t really deserve anything better.
And then the next set of spivs pretend to be doing something about it, whereas in fact they are just papering over the cracks until the next election they hope to win. We accept that too, and some of us, those who write for the Telegraph, seem to believe the wet tissue paper over the cracks is actually rock-solid. Others, those who write for the Guardian, don’t want any tissue paper at all; they want wider cracks. They also want us to join the euro, it’s never too late. That way it’ll be the EU’s headache, on top of the migraine, not to say brain cancer, it has already.
Underneath it all, there are enough spivs out there who know exactly what needs to be done to solve the problem, rather than just pretend to be solving it. Economic science isn’t rocket science, and even some politicians are bright enough to come up with the right things to do.
One, cut public spending in half, for openers. Two, eliminate the welfare state that’s as corrupting morally as it’s ruinous economically. Three, cut income tax to a level at which success is rewarded, rather than punished. Four, to reduce unemployment, cut the cost of hiring by reducing the National Insurance tax — pardon me, contributions — by two thirds at least. Five, eliminate inheritance tax, encouraging people to work for future generations, not just their own. Six, leave the EU with immediate effect, thus eliminating a whole raft of stifling regulations. Seven, find a better way of financing medical care than taxing people into penury and them killing them in NHS hospitals (just about every other Western country has found such a way). Eight, pass a law prohibiting peacetime spending financed by either the printing press or debt… Nine, well, you get the picture. So do quite a few of our politicians, including some actually in government.
And are they going to do any of these things? Are they at least going to consider them? Discuss them? Weigh the pros and cons, on merit? Ask you what you think? Are they hell.
You see, if they as much as hint at any such measures, they’ll never get elected again. And why not? Because we the people have been corrupted over several generations to recoil instinctively away from any roll-back of socialism. We’ve been taught there’s nothing better, so we won’t vote for any candidate, or any party, that fights the hydra of socialism, rather than rapping it gently on one of its heads.
As a result we get the kind of economy we deserve, the kind of life we deserve — and the kind of government we deserve. Joseph de Maistre, ring your office.