09 October 2006

What, if anything, are you going to do?

"Our streets are full of fear" headed a comment piece in The Sunday Times yesterday, written by India Knight expressing the view that:

Being frightened in the street and even in our own homes - feeling scared to intervene when yobs are behaving badly for fear of one's own safety - has become the norm in this country. We moan about it in the same way that we moan about leaves on the line or automated telephone systems: it's just everyday life.
If this was a crie de coeur from a writer who records some of the appalling goings-on in an inner London council estate, on this blog we have posted cries of equal passion about many things, from the genocidal slaughter in Darfur to - the proximate cause of this blog's existence - the encroachment of the European Union on our daily lives.

Yet, say some of our forum members, all we do is moan and one of them directs a question to us "thinkers", asking, in the context of the growing threat from Muslims in our midst, "What, if anything, are you going to do?" The implication here is that instead of mere "thinking", to say nothing of "moaning", in order to achieve something, "action" is needed.

Turning this round, however, one has to ask what sort of action should we as individuals should be contemplating. Should we be acquiring our own weapons (like our cartoon cat), to spray bullets in certain quarters to reduce numerically the perceived threat? Should we perhaps copy the methodology of some of the Muslim brethren and manufacture our own bombs – something which is remarkably easy to do - placed to achieve the same effect as our bullets?

For those who might cavil at murder, and are of a less violent disposition, how about a mass demonstration? Or a petition? Or writing to the newspaper… or our MPs? Perhaps we should start our own party even? Or what? All of those things… they have proved effective? And, since they have not, what would you have us do? What kind of action do you have in mind?

Turning the argument round again, it seems to us that those who complain about a lack of action have less understanding than perhaps they should of how power is exercised in the United Kingdom.

Although ostensibly a democracy, the convergence of mainstream political parties towards the centre means that elections (and the electorate) now have little influence over policy direction. Instead, the decisions are heavily influenced by "opinion formers" who are able to project their agendas into the corridors of power and thereby determine the issues which are taken most seriously by government.

Classic examples of this phenomenon are "Europe" and "global warming", the latter having steadily risen up the agenda to become a central feature of all the main political parties' agendas, without it ever having been a dominant election issue. And now, so similar are the policies of each party that they could not become a determining issue in an election – all parties are singing to the same hymn sheet.

But, as Booker pointed out in his column this week, not only are the political parties speaking the same language, they and the media are also in cahoots.

There is a particular affinity here between the mindsets of David Camoron and the BBC, which seems identical on global warming. They are both big fans of Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, which the Boy describes as "inspiring", agreeing that, thanks to man-made pollution, the planet faces disaster. To doubt this, supporters of the Gore thesis argue, is as criminal as to deny the existence of the Nazi holocaust.

One of the most striking attributes of these "true believers", Booker writes, is their insistence that they are supported by a consensus of scientists – something which actually does not exist. But perhaps even more striking is the cross-subject consensus. Remarkably, those who support the orthodox global warming thesis also tend to be Europhile and multi-culturalists. They also tend to be anti-Israeli, anti-war, anti-American and, to a very great extent, anti-capitalist.

Now, the point here is that this "ruling consciousness" does not necessarily represent majority opinion and in a perfect democracy, therefore, should not prevail on so many issues over which it holds sway.

One reason it does is because those who hold these views, by and large, have privileged access to the media. But another reason is that the media is also part of the "ruling consciousness" – there has been no alternative mass medium, though which dissent can be expressed. And, in the absence of any coherent expression of dissent, those in power are often genuinely believe their actions reflect the will of the people.

The importance of this dynamic cannot be over-emphasised. Most often our rulers are not evil people who are determined to foist an agenda on the people. They act in a different way, convincing (or deluding) themselves that their agenda just happens to be the one that the majority agrees with. And because we have lacked the voice by which we can tell them otherwise, our rulers can continue in their delusions that they are implementing our wishes.

Up to press, only direct action such as demonstrating or even rioting could get past this logjam. For the remainder of the time, we have been forced to content ourselves with the "grumbling in the ranks" or moaning, of which we have been accused.

If that is all we were doing currently, the criticisms of our lack of action would be valid. But we are not simply talking to ourselves – crying in our cups, so to speak. Those who post on our forum can hardly be unaware of the fact that we are running a blog and are putting up a large number of serious posts to a steadily growing. Has it not occurred that this itself, is action?

More to the point, if you think about it, influence in a democracy (and even a quasi-democracy of the nature that we have in this country) is about numbers. The media is powerful only because it is listened to by many people. How powerful would the Daily Mail be if it had a circulation of ten, or the BBC if it had only five listeners a week?

Through the wonders of the internet, however, we have the opportunity to make our voices heard and, potentially, we can speak to the same numbers of people that are reached by the traditional media – the MSM. And through this medium we can challenge the ruling consciousness and say, "no – we do not agree with you and your views are not ours".

That, in its own right, is a political act but, equally, reading a blog which disagrees with the perceived wisdom is also a political act. When as is the case, thousands are daily reading such blogs, collectively that becomes a significant political act. If, in the fullness of time, those thousands that read dissenting blogs become hundreds of thousands and even millions, our rulers will listen – they will have to listen because they know – as indeed do we – that if we are able to articulate our dissent and it is then ignored, we will take action. And history tells us that, most likely, it will be violent.

So, to the question, "What, if anything, are you going to do?", we are going to do exactly what we are doing and have been doing for nearly two years. We are going to continue running this blog with a view to building our circulation. Those that agree with our message can rest easy in the fact that, at the hit counter ticks over, the influence of the blog will increase. And, even in our democracy, influence is power.

To conclude this piece, though, many will say that this is not fast enough – the crisis is here and now. There is no time to waste. Well, that is the weakness of democracy (but also its strength). Things tend not to happen until the bulk of people are so excised about a situation that they demand action. At the moment, we have not reached that state. But the solution, collectively, is in our own hands.