Status anxiety

Long may we Brits laugh at our absurd demagogues

We are almost the only nation to defy Edmund Burke’s pessimism about democracy

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke warned that ‘pure democracy’ was as dangerous as absolute monarchy. ‘Of this I am certain, that in a democracy the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority whenever strong divisions prevail,’ he wrote. He compared demagogues to ‘court favourites’ — gifted at exploiting the -insecurities of the powerful, whether the people or the monarch.

For Burke, the risk of democracies being captured by demagogues then degenerating into tyrannies was a good argument against universal suffrage. The multitude would always be susceptible to being swayed by feeling rather than reason; they could no more be trusted with absolute power than a king or a queen. The answer, he believed, was a mixture of democracy and aristocracy, the one acting as a counterweight to the other.

It’s a curiosity of Burke’s essay that in the 226 years since it was published, his pessimism has proved well-founded about almost every country that has embraced universal suffrage except Britain. Looking at Europe and its neighbours, it’s tempting to conclude that this problem afflicts only immature democracies. I’m thinking of Russia and Turkey, but it’s also a problem in Poland, Hungary and Romania and may yet prove the undoing of France’s fifth republic. Indeed, I suspect the reason arch-federalists like Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk aren’t that keen on democracy is because it paved the way to dictatorship in Italy, Spain and Germany. You could argue that the EU was established to ‘save’ the Continent from the excesses of mob rule, with unelected commissioners and senior officials standing in for Burke’s hereditary elite.


But Donald Trump’s success suggests that even mature democracies are vulnerable to demagoguery. He is the latest in a long line of populist firebrands stretching back to ‘Pitchfork’ Ben Tillman, the senator who led a paramilitary group and boasted of killing African-Americans during the 1876 election. None succeeded in capturing the presidency, and Trump looks unlikely to do so, but only a fool would rule it out in perpetuity.

Yet Britain has never suffered this problem. The nearest we’ve come is probably Oswald Mosley, but his New Party didn’t win a single seat in the 1931 general election and the -British Union of Fascists — his second attempt to break the mould — was equally unsuccessful. Rabble rousers of the left –— Tony Benn, for instance — have fared a little better, but never wielded much power. The closest we have today is probably George Galloway, and he couldn’t even win Celebrity Big Brother, let alone the London mayoralty. Nigel Farage? He’s less like a demagogue than an old-fashioned music hall entertainer — more Archie Rice than Alf Garnett.

How have we remained immune? George Orwell pondered this question in England Your England and suggested that, for one thing, our love of liberty runs too deep. We are a nation of people who loathe being bossed about, and that makes us inherently suspicious of those seeking to wield power over us. For another, there’s the inherent gentleness of the English character. ‘You notice it the instant you set foot on English soil,’ he wrote. ‘It is a land where the bus conductors are good-tempered and the police carry no revolvers.’ We are patriotic, but our patriotism is expressed as affection for heroic failures and military disasters rather than tub-thumping jingoism — Eddie the Eagle, not Richard the Lionheart. Above all, we have a respect for the law, for constitutional legality, even without a written constitution. It’s simply inconceivable that a British Prime Minister would get away with nobbling the highest court in the land, as Poland’s did last year.

I’d add another reason, which is our sense of humour. For the British to become beguiled by a silver-tongued crowd-pleaser they’d have to ignore his or her inherent absurdity — the populist slogans, the arm-waving, the faux sincerity. We could never bring ourselves to vote for Trump — not in large numbers, anyway — because of his ludicrous self-importance. For most of us, the over-engineered hair would be reason enough to laugh him out of court.

So Burke was right about the pitfalls of democracy, but wrong about the one country he hoped would heed his warning. Long may it remain so.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • davidshort10

    And can you imagine this country’s leader, no matter how immoral or Blairite, encouraging an anti-free speech prosecution demanded by a dictatorial president in a Third World country which locks up journalists as has the German chancellor? More and more, I dislike the referendum debate being about whether people will be better off or not, which is an impossible question, rather than on matters of principle. The Scottish went through this. It didn’t matter whether they would be better off or not, but whether they wanted to be in a union dominated by the English. Should we be in a union dominated by Germany, whose chancellor (brought up of course in Stasiland) thinks she can wield personal power over the fate of an individual?

    • Agreed. I think Merkel’s Communist background is critical to understanding her delusions about the world.

      • Hybird

        It is something of a puzzle to me that a leader of a political party with “Christian” in its name should be busy flooding her Christian country with Muslims and be insisting that all her neighbouring Christian countries carry out the exact same madness.

        • If she’s still committed to her East German Communist principles all is explained!

          • AWoLsco

            “her East German Communist principles all is explained!”

            …and remember she is just an apparatchik, a well-trained apparatchik and a woman, hence easily threatened and intimidated.
            On top of all that, it must be borne in mind that Germany is still an occupied country, occupied and dictated to by the USA, and still paying tribute to its conquerors.
            Why anyone wants to join an economic and political group led by this physical and mental cripple of Europe beats me( Well, no.. Not entirely).

            Democracy is a sham. We’re all playing a very stupid game, kidding ourselves on that we control events. We don’t.
            There’s a shadow ‘government’ in the background that needs to be exposed and brought out into the open…..and until it is, then many puzzling events, such as people proclaiming themselves Christian while inviting in hordes of muslims, bogus false flag operations, and paying utterly ridiculous amounts of money to jews, will continue.

          • John Brocklehurst

            Oh boy, here we go.

            At least you didn’t mention lizard people I suppose.

          • Das Boot ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            …or the Chosen People….

          • 100

            are you also a ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ pr*ck.?

            Not that it needs verifying

          • Das Boot ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Be off with you, you dripping female organ.

        • Hagen vanTronje

          Perhaps her Menopause experience sent her a bit batty.
          It is rather strange that the German Woman who deliberately stayed barren to further her career should exhort Germans to produce more children, the Nazis had much more success with birthrate enhancement but they also handed out some rather nice awards to the fecund.

      • OmnipotentWizard

        I think your blind prejudices are critical to understanding your delusions about Merkel.

        • You obviously don’t know about Merkel’s past.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            Yes I do and I also know about her present and I know about what she’s said about her future.

            If you want to help the OUT campaign then here is some advice:
            1. Don’t bother posting on this (or most other) online forums. It is mostly OUTters here and so you are just “preaching to the converted”.
            2. Don’t try to put forward the argument that we will somehow be ruled by Germany in some superstate. The undecided know this is rubbish and just won’t buy it.
            3. Do concentrate on the economy as that is the only issue that will swing undecided voters.
            4. Do write letters to MPs etc.
            5. Do march (peacefully).
            6. Produce leaflets (which avoid esoteric issues of sovereignty or overblown rhetoric) and posts them locally.

            Good luck – however you must expect to lose.

    • MikeF

      “can you imagine this country’s leader, no matter how immoral or Blairite, encouraging an anti-free speech prosecution”. Unfortunately yes – especially if they were ‘Blairite’.

    • OmnipotentWizard

      “I dislike the referendum debate being about whether people will be
      better off or not, which is an impossible question, rather than on
      matters of principle.” Principles are dangerous. People with principles cause wars.

      Wizard Rule 25: An unprincipled pragmatist will be the person most likely to make the right decision.

      “The Scottish went through this.” And they voted for economic security over principle – just as the country will in the referendum.

      ” Should we be in a union dominated by Germany,…” No, because the UK is due to overtaken Germany within the next few years and so if anything it will be dominated by us.

      “whose chancellor (brought up of course in Stasiland) thinks she can wield personal power over the fate of an individual?” So you can read minds then?

      • Hagen vanTronje

        “”No, because the UK is due to overtaken Germany within the next few years and so if anything it will be dominated by us.””

        But Germany has imported the necessary quantity of fast breeding Immigrants to balance the low birth rates of Germans, Germany will never be dominated by the British, they are too efficient for that to happen !

        • OmnipotentWizard

          “But Germany has imported the necessary quantity of fast breeding Immigrants…” Most immigrants already do not have large families and anyway immigrants will conform to German norms within two generations.

          • Hagen vanTronje

            “”Most immigrants already do not have large families and anyway immigrants will conform to German norms within two generations.””

            You never went to the Wedding District in Berlin, a Turkish Ghetto just like Pakis in Bradford and the Moroccans in Molenbeek, Brussel..
            Their sort do not understand the meaning of integration !

          • OmnipotentWizard

            All early generation immigrants cluster together and stick to the customers of the ancestors. It has happened time and again over history. In the past in major UK cities there have been large Jewish, Black Caribbean, Huguenot, Irish, Indian, etc ghettos that slowly dissolve over a few generations.

            Read more history and less of THOSE websites.

            As for your 1980s view of the family sizes of developing countries:

            “Across the world, even in countries like Bangladesh, families of just two children are now the norm – meaning that within a few generations, the population explosion will be over.” (Professor Hans Rosling)

            “The average number of viable children per woman is now about two globally. This means that all future population growth is now a result of increased longevity.” (Gapminder Foundation)

          • Hagen vanTronje

            “”All early generation immigrants cluster together and stick to the
            customers of the ancestors. It has happened time and again over history.
            In the past in major UK cities there have been large Jewish, Black
            Caribbean, Huguenot, Irish, Indian, etc ghettos that slowly dissolve
            over a few generations.””

            You are admitting that currently there is no integration then ?

          • OmnipotentWizard

            “You are admitting that currently there is no integration then ?” Certainly not. Most Muslims that live clustered in Luton, Bradford, etc. will be of early generation. Most Muslims that are (say) third generation and later will have dispersed (and you won’t know they’re Muslims when you meet them).

            ALL past waves of immigrants have behaved in this way.

          • somewhereinthesouth

            But the “waves” were much smaller and they weren’t aggressive in demanding that their standards be applied in place of current English law and custom [ e.g. Sharia laws which discriminates against women ] . I am very interested to know [ in the past as you say ] where these large black communities were and where they have dissolved . So far as I can see , most black people , whilst having adopted UK customs , still tend to live in fairly concentrated areas near to where they first settled , although many of course HAVE also dispersed into surrounding areas and some further afield.

            As for your implied suggestion that muslims of the second or third generation will have dispersed or integrated , I think your reasoning is faulty , since nearly all the other groups of migrants where this has happened , with the notable exception of Muslims [ and possibly Indians ] , had religions whose standards tended to reflect and even conform with the prevailing standards of the host country – which of course at the time was Christian. The Irish ,Caribbean and Huguenot migrants for example were notably nearly all Christians and two of these three groups also spoke English as their native tongue . Even the Jewish community – never very large in the UK – has a religion reflects many Judeo -Christian ideas. [That it does so is reflected in the fact that in the Middle East the only stable and free inclusive western style democracy is Israel.The same cannot be said of muslim countries there which are unstable and largely undemocratic and these days often self proclaimed theocracies ].
            Thus nearly all of the migrant groups you refer to were people whose values , if not their culture of origin , reflected those of the host country or there ideals did not dramatically conflict with it .Naturally such groups will find integration far easier than those whose religion can be argued to expressly oppose or denigrate Christians , Jews and non believers as infidel and whose dogmatic attitudes [ both religious and cultural ] to women’s rights , equality , sexual liberation as well as ideas of democracy [ as opposed to theocracy ] are opposed to our current laws and political history .

            Of course it is possible you may be right about muslims , and that they will after 70 – 100 years or so disperse and gradually lose their adherence to those more extreme muslim values [ if thats what they are] which conflict with British and western norms , and , that they will eventually adopt and even celebrate these more modern and liberal values . However we will have a long time to repent if you are wrong .I for one worry about the risks – the Islamic region has shown itself to be very aggressive in spreading its creed in history . It should be remembered that there were constant battles between Europe and the muslim world from the 7 th C right up until the mid 18 C . It is true that after the muslims were expelled from the gates of Vienna conflicts subsequently ceased but this was more to do with the strength and power of European culture / nations, and the corresponding weakness of muslim regimes [who failed to adopt renaissance ideas] than any change in their philosophy or religion .

          • OmnipotentWizard

            “But the “waves” were much smaller…” Read more history. The waves from the Huguenot expulsions was large and from the Irish famine was huge. Certainly in percentage terms they eclipse Pakistan or Syria or Iran…

            “…and they weren’t aggressive in demanding that their standards be applied in place of current English law…” Neither are Muslim according to the Channel 4 survey.

            “I am very interested to know [ in the past as you say ] where these
            large black communities were and where they have dissolved…” Why do you ask….but Brixton is a good example.

            “So far as I can see , most black people , whilst having adopted UK customs , still tend to live in fairly concentrated areas…” Very incorrect. Even the most rural will have some black population and mixed-race is the fasting growing racial group in most cities (if it qualifies as a racial group).

            “…As for your implied suggestion that muslims of the second or third generation will have dispersed or integrated ,…” I don’t think I said second which is too early. By the third generation they will start to disperse.

            “…had religions whose standards tended to reflect and even conform with the prevailing standards of the host country…” Islam is no more at odds with UK laws than Christianity. We don;t have Christian laws – after all it isn’t an offense to commit adultery . Interesting it was a capital offense to commit adultery in the “reign” of Cromwell which was the last time we were a Christian country.

            “The Irish ,Caribbean and Huguenot migrants for example were notably nearly all Christians…” …and the country is secular.

            I have destroyed enough of your argument for now as the good TV is starting….

          • somewhereinthesouth

            What like the muslims who came here from Pakistan/Bangladesh who still fail to conform to British norms and standards despite having been here over 50 years ? If anything our muslim communities are becoming less British over time , since they are now asserting the “right” to impose their culture and religious views not only on the their own wives and kids and those living in immediate community but also on wider British population whose values and standards conflict with those of even the moderates muslims e.g. women’s rights /equality or the need for segregation in state funded muslim schools . All this of course has been encouraged by the liberal lefts ideals of multi cutluralism [ and of course that no culture can be regarded as inferior to another regardless of the success of the culture or our own laws and customs ] .It has also been fuelled by muslims hiding behind such concepts such as blasphemy and Islamophobia . If they love Britain it is mainly because our tolerance allows them to get away with this sort of thing . Other immigrant communities such as Indians, Chinese, Caribbeans ,Sikhs etc of course have mostly integrated well [ or at least better ].The same cannot be said of those who follow the Islamic faith.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            “What like the muslims who came from Pakistan who still fail to conform to
            British norms and standards despite being here 50 years ?” Just because you want something to be true that doesn’t mean it is.

            “If anything our muslim communities are becoming less British over time…” Muslim communities are populated by early generation immigrants. Later generation immigrants don’t live in these communities.

            “…since they are now asserting the “right” to impose their culture and
            religious views not only on the their own wives and kids and those
            living in immediate community…” What is the source of this “fact”. I have to warn you that I will not consider “inside your head” to be a valid source.

            “It has also been fuelled by muslims hiding behind such concepts such as blasphemy and Islamophobia…” I’m not sure what you think has been fueled?

            “Other immigrant communities such as Indians, Chinese, Caribbeans ,Sikhs etc of course have mostly integrated well…” Over time.

            Stop reading THOSE websites – they are bad for your brain.

  • trobrianders

    “Laughing at” is something arrogant lefties do. They sit around watching lame lefty comedy panel shows and think that’s all they need to know about world politics/philosophy. Absolutely pathetic!

    • OmnipotentWizard

      Are you suggesting right-wing people have no sense of humour?

      • Das Boot ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        He has his comments concealed for good reason 😉

  • Bendys

    It doesn’t matter who votes, but who counts the votes.

    • Landphil

      No, it’s who posts them.

    • OmnipotentWizard

      It doesn’t matter who votes, but who tried to discredit the result when they lose.

  • Jojje 3000

    There is never ‘pure democracy’, always some electorate who keep the privilege and the rest out.

  • Roger Hudson

    Spode without his Blackshorts,nice photo.

  • Trailblazer10

    Trump is not a problem, he is the cure.It is supposed to be government of the people, by the people, for the people. The purpose of the constitution is to guarantee individual rights and limit the powers of government. It was designed to prevent Tyrannical, overreaching government.

    Unfortunately, it hasn’t prevented that. The Legislature no longer represents the people. The extreme left policies of Obama are largely unopposed by the donor class Rinos, selling out the people. There is little more than lip service from the political class, who rely on indoctrination and relentless propaganda from the controlled media to try and fool the voters.

    Americans are under attack.Obama has deliberately weakened the borders – thousands are raped killed by illegal aliens. Drugs are pouring across the border, and the vicious Mexican drug gangs are all over the place. The FBI says there are now terror cells in every State.The donor class and their corporatist backers sell jobs overseas to enrich themselves, replace Americans with cheaper foreigners by abusing the H1B visa system, and support open borders with the crime and devastation it inflicts.

    The people who can resist the indoctrination are trying to regain control.The situation is very serious. This election is the last chance.

    • OmnipotentWizard

      “The purpose of the constitution is to guarantee individual rights and limit the powers of government” If you mean the US constitution then unfortunately for you some idiots wrote it down and this makes it very difficult to change.

      Trying to live in the 21st Century by 18th Century rules is crackers.

      • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        “Trying to live in the 21st Century by 18th Century rules is crackers.”

        That’s what the Left say about the Second Amendment, but they’re wrong, of course– there’s never been MORE need for it. It is the ultimate “check and balance” against the demagogues such as are spoken about in the article. ” ‘Democracy’ is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner. ‘Liberty’ is a well-armed lamb able and willing to contest the result.” — apocryphal quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin

        • OmnipotentWizard

          The Second Amendment is exactly the reason that a written constitution is bonkers. Rather that actually address the arguments the gun-nuts just fall back on “its the second amendment so we can’t change it” as a matter of faith. The constitution has become a pseudo-religion.

          Wizard Rule 16: Faith is no substitute for reason.

          • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Oh, I do not believe that it is undue reverence for a written Constitution and the Second Amendment in particular, that prompts my admiration for it, merely that it enshrines good old common sense. “Better to have and not need, than to need and not have” an instrumentality that in practical terms is better at removing the source of the problem of demagogues. Trusting to the good will of the potential leader, of a supine fawning nation, not to abuse his/her power over those who speak out against his/her ideal state is only going to end in tragedy, I’m afraid. And I don’t wish to be afraid– I wish for the tyrant-in-waiting to be afraid.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            Demagogues can only prosper in a society that is poor – capitalism begats wealth begats democracy begats freedom…

            Therefore once this progression has happened (China is currently in the wealth begats democracy stage of this transition) then freedom is assured. Most of the developing countries are at the capitalism begats wealth stage.

            But the idea that a population where some people have handguns and are mostly not sure how to use them could stand up to a tyranical Government with troops carrying automatic weapons and with tanks does show just how out of date the second amendment is.

          • Hagen vanTronje

            For your information, the US Public is allowed to be armed with identical weapons used by the US Military, the one proviso is Semi Automatic versions.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            You don’t see many tanks on driveways. You don’t see many jets parked behind peoples houses. You don’t see many military helicopters in the supermarket car-parks.

            And most people in the US with guns keep them on top of the wardrobe and never use them. Indeed if they did suddenly need to resist George III or Donald Trump they’d be more likely to shoot themselves in the foot or accidentally kill a member of their family.

            The second amendment is a very good example of the law that is no longer sensible.

          • Hagen vanTronje

            “”You don’t see many tanks on driveways. You don’t see many jets parked
            behind peoples houses. You don’t see many military helicopters in the
            supermarket car-parks.””

            The USA Urban Military uses the same SUV’s the US citizens use.
            Jets, Tanks etc are used against the foreign enemies of the USA.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            “Jets, Tanks etc are used against the foreign enemies” So any future tyrannical government (which is what the reason for the second amendment) would say “I know we have all these tank and military helicopters but we won’t use them to suppress the people because that wouldn’t be fair.

            Are all gun nuts as naive as you?

          • Hagen vanTronje

            Are all Marxists as naive as you are ?

          • OmnipotentWizard

            Marxist? I’ve read Das Kapital and it is SO boring. You get the impression that even Marx was unsure that his proposals would work.

            No – I am a pragmatist. If something works then do it and when it stops being useful (like the second amendment) then do something else.

          • Das Boot ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            At least he didn’t accuse you of Kulturbolschewismus 😉

          • Hagen vanTronje

            But I might in due course !

          • Das Boot ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            The “USA Urban Military”? Do you mean the police? The National Guard? What?

          • Hagen vanTronje

            NSA, FBI, CIA, ATF….. take your pick !

          • Das Boot ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Well, those paramilitary organisations do have armoured vehicles at their disposal, plus of course helicopters (some of which are black!).

          • Bonkim

            Wish that was the case in Britain too.

          • MikeF

            Democracy requires an appropriate political culture based on freedom of speech and there is no great indication that exists in mainland China even if the economy is increasingly capitalist.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            Well done – you’ve almost got it.

            As wealth increases in China then people have more spare time and resources and will push against the state. The state (if it is sensible) will slowly give and democracy arrives by small amount. The fact that people in China now stand up to authority in a way that would have got them shot twenty years ago is hopeful.

            Prediction: In thirty years China will be a multi-party democracy. They may call the parties CommunistA and CommunistB to save face but it will be increasingly like the UK.

          • MikeF

            The thought that that in 20-30 years time the UK may be similar to China occurred to me as well – but the convergence may not be in the direction you suppose.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            The convergence will occur in all countries and people move toward the being a Capitalist Democracy. More wealth gives people more time to become involved in things above just surviving.

          • Bonkim

            Faith is enough reason for many.

    • JPVan

      Trump is a huge problem, probably the worst presidential candidate in the history of the United States. His skill set goes no further than what’s needed to be a successful swindler, con artist, and flim flam man with his candidacy just his latest promotion. He’s a blithering idiot on all matters of policy and the only reason he has gained any traction at all has more to do with a historically dismal crop of candidates this time around rather than any virtues of his own.

      For those who see him as nothing more than a wrecking ball to knock back the establishment, I would share that sentiment and see that as a good thing if Trump had an ounce of good character and judgment. Instead, he’s insane (narcissistic personality disorder) and reckless.

      • Chamber Pot

        You snob.

      • 100

        do you need a tissue for all that frothing or maybe just pop another xanax and get over your issues.

    • macoulin

      It was designed to prevent Tyrannical, overreaching government.

      no it wasn’t….

      the purposes are clear in the declaration of independence…it was designed to secure the blessings of liberty… that is to secure the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….and should not be changed for light and transient causes….[i.e. you don’t like your taxes]….the only tyranny mentioned had king george iii as a specific referent…..you could also refer to the preamble of the constitution for its clearly stated purposes…justice, tranquility, common defense, general welfare, and the above mentioned blessings of liberty…..not one smidgen about tyranny….or overreaching governments….

      but, such an unfounded premise, you devolve into stupidity [sorry, but I have to call it what it is] about Obama deliberately weakening the borders…etc….I mean, you imagine all kinds of things…and expand on that with your weird mishmash of conspirational designs….drugs flowing into the us?…..where there is a demand, there will always be a supply….if you want to make an effect in that area, join the decriminalization movement….

  • Trailblazer10

    Toby, you are also completely wrong about Poland.

  • Ade

    …and we won’t be dictated to, by “second-rate bank clerks with the charisma of a damp rag”, either.

    • OmnipotentWizard

      Farage?

      • Chamber Pot

        The man has charisma in spades.

        • OmnipotentWizard

          I expect he thinks there are too many Spades in the country.

          • Chamber Pot

            On the contrary he probably thinks there are too many Eton scumbags in Dave’s sofa cabinet, the man doesn’t have a racist bone in his body so quit the smearing as you’ll end up in the sh**.

          • OmnipotentWizard

            But he certainly attract a lot of people who are racists and homophobic:

            Victoria Ayling (racist), David Silvester (extreme Christian views), Andre Lampit (racist), Kerry Smith (homophobia), Rozanne Duncan (far right views), Jack Sen (anti-Semitism), Robert Blay ( making racist comments and threatening behaviour), Gareth Bennett (xenophobia and low IQ), etc.

        • Shorne

          When my late father-in-law (went right through World War 2 in the Sappers then spent decades working with the British Legion as well as his day job) first saw Farage on the TV he said ‘Feller looks like one of those b*ggers during the War who’d stop you in Piccadilly and offer you knocked off Army petrol.’ It’s an image that has stayed with me ever since.

          • Chamber Pot

            Perhaps he should have looked more closely at Dave ?

            Farage has been subjected to forensic attention by our ‘corporate’ media so if he was any sort of wide boy we would know all about it.

            Would I buy a used car off Nigel ? Yes. Dave ? No. If I shook hands with Dave I would count my fingers afterwards.

  • OmnipotentWizard

    When Pegida marched in Germany they had thousands; in the UK they were outnumbered by the press.

    And the following day the media and discussion forums took the P out of them – it made me proud to be British.

  • Sean L

    You are misrepresenting and misunderstanding the spirit of Burke’s point here about the dictatorship of the public realm, which has never been more pertinent than now. But in our time the instrument is the mass media which didn’t exist when Burke was writing in the 18th century. You appear to be completely oblivious to the tyranny of poiitical correctness as enforced by the media and the police and state apparatus generally, where people are imprisoned merely for voicing opinions which would have been considered commonplace to their parents. But what you said about Burke and demagoguery didn’t ring true anyway so I just checked, which is easy now with all such books online and searchable. Burke himself doesn’t say anything about demagoguery. The only mention of the word is a quote from Aristotle, albeit in the context of your quote. But your second para about the multitude being swayed by feeling rather than reason is back to front re Burke who values feeling over reason: it’s the entire basis of his argument that the customs and prejudices of a people represent a kind of accumulated wisdom which is to be valued over such novelties as the principles of pure reason that animated the French revolutionaries. And to invoke Burke in defence of the current regime is a complete travesty – and when I say “regime” I mean the ruling elite – there having been no truly significant differences between the main parties on all the major political questions facing this country, at least since Tony Blair.

    http://www.bartleby.com/24/3/9.html.

  • MikeF

    “a mixture of democracy and aristocracy” – exactly what the left seem to believe in today with themselves as the aristocracy and as little of the democracy as possible.

    • Dryermartinithanyours

      Precisely. Great piece though, this is really beautifully written. The tyranny of the oppressed is what we suffer in these strange days of counter-culture inversion. The values of the majority have been inverted by a fanatical minority, but a minority that has achieved that of which the Fabians dreamed, change from within. Blame more the spread of university education in the illiberal arts.

  • Chamber Pot

    Well, currently, we have a very long way to go to living in a perfect democracy.

    What we have at the moment is the minority exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the majority who, when they inevitably throw off these cruel oppressions will hardly be disposed towards mercy.

  • I’m laughing heartily at Tobes even now as I reach his tin-eared and utterly un-self-aware article

  • Bonkim

    Nothing wrong with a democracy rejecting minorities from its decision making.

  • Hagen vanTronje

    A nice photo of Sir oswald, one of the few honest labour MP’s ever to draw breath.

  • KilowattTyler

    Resistance to ‘demagoguery’ is probably more to do with the lack of a political and economic crisis affecting ‘the masses’ rather than ‘national character’ and the like.

    Trump has done well because for very many ordinary US citizens there has been stagnation in living standards, loss of jobs due to globalisation and weak economic growth. If you feel your life, and that of your family and friends, is going down the toilet you are frustrated and angry and more likely to listen to a politician who is also appears angry and seems to offer solutions to your problems (rightly or wrongly).

    Hitler was of course the prime example of a demagogue exploiting mass frustration and Germany in the 1920s and 30s was characterised by high unemployment, an unstable currency and political instability following a humiliating defeat in WW I.

    Oswald Mosley did not do as well as Hitler simply because the situation in post WW I Britain was not nearly as dire as that of Germany. There was high unemployment (but not nearly as bad as Germany’s) but the currency was stable and political structure of Britain was intact and not under obvious threat. Had Britain been on the losing side in WW I Mosley, or someone like him, might have done rather well.

    • Oriental Imp

      Yes and no. I think you’re basically right. We’ve not been invaded since 1066 after all and even though we’ve been threatened and in real peril it’s never happened since.

      It’s impossible to say how we’d react if we were horribly defeated and invaded in a war or suffered desperate hardship. We might embrace extremism. I suppose there’s still time.

      But certainly, with regards to WWII it’s possible to say, like Basil Fawlty, we didn’t start it. If the causes of that conflict were WWI, and they probably were, again, we didn’t start it. If the cause of the Napoleonic wars was the Revolution, well, we didn’t have one.

Close