Democracy stifles true freedom of thought



Democracy is heralded as the foremost structure for politics to operate in, it promoted around the world by the likes of America and the UK as the model for engaging vivid and innovative political discussion, debate that drives pioneering policies that will pay dividends now and well into the future. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe the very structures that were set up to seek out new ideas that would encourage debate and inevitably change the world are in fact strangling any voice that appears radical because the system causes people to care more about getting in power then maintaining it than realising ideal objectives for the greater good.

We have career politicians that need to keep themselves in a job and thus need to be continually voted into office. In this way they must tailor their manifesto to be popular to the demographic in the area they are running for to win the election. Once in power they are expected to follow the objectives they laid out in their campaign, but as time goes on and they realise the systems of power and how to play them they increasingly realise that to gain promotion and therefore influence, responsibility and power they must “tow the party line”, rocking the boat is not an option.

Free thinkers are considered to be on the fringes of politics and are tolerated as eccentrics or radicals but that are disruptive and often derisive. However, to agree with this point of view is to hold a contradictory opinion of democracy, it says ‘you can think and say what you wish, but you must tow the party line’. How does this stimulate free thinking, the ability to imagine a world outside the current frameworks and restrictions to invent a new or original way to tackle a traditional issue like poverty. This free thinking created the NHS, the police force and women being educated; we need people willing to explore unknown territory, to be prepared to state a revolutionary solution to drive change, without them democracy is nothing.

 Lydia is a new member of the BUCF committee taking control of events officer. The committee has gone under a slight restructure, which will be explained later.


11 thoughts on “Democracy stifles true freedom of thought

  1. I would agree that without radicals, democracy would be less able to survive. Pioneers are an essential part of democracy. They are, of course, at the fringes of mainstream political thought, but this is inevitable. Many stay at the fringes simply because their ideas aren’t good enough, some are more successful at influencing opinion.

    However, I would equally argue that democracy is the ideal environment for radical thought, and where it can genuinely influence debate. I think this would be less likely in a dictatorship.

  2. That is an interesting point you make fan about peples ideas not being good enough! I have studied philosphers of the drench enlightenment this term and last! And a lot of their ideas did not receive recognition until after they had died. I think that in the modern world so much of your ideas is about how you market them and communicate them particularly if you are on the fringes of thought!

  3. Welcome Lydia. There is of course some truth in what you say. I don’t think democracy per se is the problem though. There are other features of our democracy that promote careerism v principled stances. As I don’t think that you are arguing against democracy I think you need to put forward some ideas for how to encourage people willing to explore unknown territory within a democratic system – maybe another post?

  4. Thank you for engaging in my first ever blog! To further what I said I think the idea about career vs. a principled stance is really at the crux of what the general pulic perceive to be wrong with politics and more over with politicians. Sleazy, scandalous and deceitful seem to be by-words for describing politicians and this is the image we must change in order to re-engage ordinary people with politics. To convince them again that politics matters and that there are many trustworthy and honourable people working as politicians today. David Cameron’s own rally cry to the nation to see the Conservatives as the voice of change as taken from the Conservative website is:

    “Only we Conservatives have the new ideas and the long-term policies to give people more opportunity and power over their lives, make families stronger and society more responsible, and make Britain safer and greener.

    That’s why at the next election, whenever it is, people will agree that it’s time for change.”

    Change I believe is agreed upon by the nation as long over due but how do we engage minds young and old from varying backgrounds in order to produce the thinkers of the future? We need to make politics interesting, stimulating and relevant. I think voting in David Cameron went a long way to turning around the image of the Tories as a stuffy gentleman’s club but we need more women, more young people, more ethnic minorities who are fired up and passionate about local issues and are articulate and determined for change.

    We should encourage MPs to visit schools more for question times and even let the children propose a question that the MP could ask in Prime Minister’s question time, for example. Hold think-tank days for children and sixth-formers and promote the Youth Parliament. In short, get back to the essence of politics- representing the voice of the people for the best governance of the people!

  5. Here’s a few more ideas.

    1. What do you think of the Our say campaign.
    2. Why shouldn’t the electorate be given an option to recall an MP (if more than a certain number of signatures are found) ?
    3. I believe scrutiny improves MP performance. The MSM seems to fall short on this score which is why blogs like this help.
    4. Increased local democracy through elected police chiefs and more powers returned to local councils
    5. If we’re talking about democracy we have to be serious about EU reform – this probably incl. repatriating certain powers to the nation state.

  6. We shouldn’t forget that the principal job of politicians is government. Democracy is merely the system by which those who govern are chosen. We need politicians who can make the wheels go round, as well as those who can think great thoughts.

  7. Politicians are elected on a manifesto led campaign, and so surely this is reflective of the opinion of the party and the ordinary members, both radical and central. Democracy can be argued to stifle imaginative government (look at ours at the moment), but it can also be argued to allow basic freedom of speech. The main problem with our system in respect to radical thought is the ‘sticks and carrots’ that the PM has, such as patronage, and of course such a strong whipping system. Although look how many people went against their party line on Iraq, and how many are doing so on drug issues!

    PS: I’ve returned the favour and BUCF is now on my blogroll also.

  8. Lol. I (may) remember toeing a party line to have you elected as an indi chair to Guild Council a few years ago, Lydia. Weren’t you a Labour Student then? I can’t imagine Richard Angell (allegedly) putting a whip out if you weren’t. Sorry if you’re doing some undercover work and I’ve just blown your cover :)

    Ahhh the irony!

  9. I fear that you have been grossly miss informed, I have never been a labour student, I went on one social with them in my first year and other than that I knew people who were labour in in time at the Guild but that’s about it.

    Get your facts right first matey before “blowing my cover” maybe …i dont know… ask me!

  10. Sounds like you need to get your facts in order first really John.

    Speaking of working undercover is that now what you are doing in your new line of work Mr. Ritchie? An oil company isn’t it?

    Those money grabbers, didn’t think that was a traditional left wing view, particularly of a man is so so well principled like yourself.

  11. Haha…

    Lydia – I seem to have been grossly misinformed indeed. Please don’t misunderstand my comment as an accusation, simply seeking clarification. I’ll be having words with those who led me into voting for a dirty Tory (dirty not referring to your good person, only your party :) I think most people have to play down their factional allegiances when running for office in the Guild, and many will cosy up to particular groups in order to get elected. I’m not accusing you of that, but it seems to be standard practice in the Guild (watch it happen in the run-up to sabb elections)… which is why I initially found the whole subject of your post a little ironic.

    Anonymous person – no, I’m not working undercover at all! I’m very happy to be applying my well-learnt skills, obtained under a Labour Government, to the future prosperity of our country. You can’t really expect every Labour Party member to work for local government or in nationalised industries these days can you? We must work best with what we have and, of course, try to change what we have for the better and good of all our citizens… even those whose politics are terribly misguided.

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