People don’t vote with their wallets, they vote with their hearts

The spread of vulgar materialism is one of the main characteristics of modernity. Actually no modifier is necessary: materialism is vulgar by definition.

As a derivative of that, we live in the middle of what I call totalitarian economism. Or rather that’s what politicians, economists and political economists try to make us believe.

Now that we know for sure that man descends from a rather unsavoury mammal via a path whose existence is strictly a matter of materialistic faith, metaphysics has been banned.

Our behaviour, our thoughts, our lives are supposed to be wholly describable in strictly physical terms. Man, taught Enlightenment gurus, is a rational animal who only ever acts irrationally because he doesn’t know any better.

Marx translated this line of thought into economics, and his followers into politics. The upshot is that even those who profess contempt for Marxism seem to think that on polling day voters coolly weigh the economic pros and cons, and only then tick their voting forms.

Hence James Carville’s maxim “It’s the economy, stupid”, meaning that an election or a referendum is decided exclusively by economic considerations. Yet this belief is itself stupid, disproved by just about any election just about anywhere.

For example, those politicians who correctly perceive that Scotland voting for independence would spell the end of the United Kingdom cite one balance sheet after another, each proving beyond doubt that the Scots have nothing to gain and all to lose by casting the ‘out’ vote.

QED. Or is it? Then how come every poll conducted so far shows that the referendum is balanced on a knife’s edge, and the result could go either way?

We may legitimately use this example to question the very notion of universal suffrage. In support we can cite Churchill’s statement on democracy – not the popular one about it being the best of everything that has been tried so far, but the one where he says that “The greatest argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Such scepticism is perfectly valid in general, but not when it comes to economic self-interest. Most people, especially Scots, are perfectly capable of looking at a set of policies and figuring out which one will suit their finances better.

The Scots, ineptly led by Alex Salmond, know they’re likely to lose the pound, certain to lose massive payments into their social budget, guaranteed to lose freedom of the City of London and what not.

Not to cut too fine a point, opting out of the UK will mean opting out of relative affluence, and the parsimonious Scots are perfectly aware of this. So why are the polls so close?

Because the Scots hate the English. Well, not really hate, even though one often hears this phrase delivered with the maddeningly narrow vowel in the verb. It’s just that they prefer the Braveheart Mel Gibson to those actors with cut-glass accents who acted the roles of villainous Englishmen.

That utterly dishonest film reminded the Scots of various chips they’ve been carrying on their shoulders ever since the 1706-1707 Acts of the Union. Their blood boils, their eyes steam up, their ears get plugged.

Cold financial calculations need not apply, and three cheers for the Scots. Not because their separatist sentiments aren’t ridiculous – they are. But because they give the lie to totalitarian economism. They prove that people aren’t electronic calculators – we are human: sinful, sentient, fallen, gloriously free people created to seek not philistine comfort but immortality.

Or look at the Irish. Unlike the Scots, they have a legitimate claim to having been conquered and cruelly abused by the English, specifically during the 1649–53 Cromwellian expedition.

Even though the English have played demographic tricks for three and a half centuries, trying to populate Northern Ireland with Anglo-Protestants, the anti-English sentiment is still strong. To test this proposition, go to the centre of Belfast, raise an Up the Republic! placard and see enthusiastic crowds gathering around you in minutes.

Do they think they’d be better off financially if Ulster were to secede? I bet that consideration doesn’t even enter their minds. Call this sectarianism, nationalism, vengefulness, religious strife – call it anything you wish. I’d simply call it human.

Are they wrong? Probably. But then Seneca did say that errare humanum est, and he knew a thing or two about human nature.

Now if the Irish are still smarting from the massacre of Drogheda that happened three-and-a-half centuries ago, is it any wonder that the Ukrainians haven’t forgotten those 8,000,000 of their countrymen who were deliberately starved to death by the Soviets in 1932-1933?

And the Holodomor was far from being the only democide perpetrated by the predominantly Russian Soviets during Bolshevik rule. How do you suppose the Ukrainians feel when they see that Russia is still run by the same unrepentant organisation that murdered millions of their grandparents?

I’m sure some, though not most, of them would be prepared to forgive – there still are some Christians in the Ukraine. Except that no one has asked for forgiveness, and in fact the Russians only owned up to the Holodomor a few years ago. So when an opportunity to settle accounts presented itself, the Ukrainians grabbed it.

Do you think they care about the Russian loans that will be recalled, the Russian gas that will triple in price, their own economy that’ll suffer egregiously?

If so, think again. The Ukrainians don’t even care about the possibility of another massacre perpetrated by the Russians. And you know why? Because they’re human and as such endowed with the ability to rise above material concerns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.