Too much democracy can be bad for your health
By Julia Moore
In homage to Douglas Adams..don’t panic...this is a strictly non-political column, promise. Well..non-political in the sense that, in contrast to every journal, on-line, or otherwise, I shall not be providing an in-depth analysis on the French elections (we are mid-way, by time this appears), nor Brexit, Grexit, Frexit or Swissxit (sorry, Switzerland not actually in the EU at time of writing). No, for this month, the focus is strictly around the definition of contemporary views of freedom vs. democracy, how/why people engage in a para-political world...and on-line kittens.
At the moment - pan-Europe - the average Joe and Joanna are confused. My calculation is that many readers of this column have, or continue to be members and active supporters of ‘something’- National Trust, animal sanctuaries, safer crossing for school-children, and so on. However, with the ‘snap’ election in the UK, once again, an electorate has been asked to focus on a series of issues, policies and stances, hardly yet back from the EU voting booth, with the cup of tea still warm. Quite honestly, the voting public would rather be in the garden, watching the Spring turn to Summer (ok, that bit is very Mediterranean, perhaps in the UK it’s a little cooler, like the general atmosphere).
The EU Referendum provided a clear steer as to how -and why an important marginal cohort affected the result. Vulnerable to media ‘mis-information’, on everything from EU over-regulation (those cucumbers and sausages), immigration and public spending, excluded communities were- and still are - easy prey for media moguls with an agenda of their own. But, let’s lighten the mood a little. When the focus is clear, direct and obvious, the electorate - any electorate/civic group can leap into action.
From Sheffield to Kerela, communities affected by technocratic decisions can garner themselves and be highly effective. The Kerelian example - low-paid workers who ran a large US company out of town, to protect their water supply - show what collective action can do, and how it is not a concept consigned to the industrial revolution/rise of the Trade Union era. The difference now is that the public are more in control of their destiny, without a large body behind or above them. The Sheffield example (anti-tree cull across the City) has created a highly organised fighting network, who learn and share tactics as one neighbourhood wins/ loses its battle with the local authority. So, one has to wonder, why and how any mainstream political body - of any political flavour - cannot inspire or motivate in a similar way.
Local, collective action seems to be the 21st Century way of engagement, and brings to mind the origins of organised action- chartism,etc. There is an obvious link here- a network of alliances - all the groups coalesce under one concept, one issue - for political leaders to actually represent them-like the old days of democracy, rather than the new one, which is broken and no longer fit for purpose.
And finally...those kittens..clearly world events are becoming overwhelming...the rise of ‘hits’ of kitten-looking on-line increases by the minute. It must be the contemporary version of humming to yourself, or doodling when day-dreaming. Psychologists promise us that this temporary ‘opting out’ is healthy..a re-setting of an overworked, tired brain. So, in the cause of well-being and life-balance...go stare at kittens for a bit...and then join a good cause, preferably non-political, but something which benefits the community -plant a tree, or, rather than look at an on-line kitten...adopt a real one, from your local rescue centre.