The people's this and the people's that figure largely in UKIP's pronouncements. One can only assume that knowledge of recent history is not required by its
Not so long ago (about a week or so) I saw comments about UKIP being unique in British politics in that its policies are for the people and are created with the people in mind. I could not help recalling the great Louis Armstrong's comment in response to some dumb-fool question as to what he thought about folk songs and folk music (a big concept in popular political music in the 1960s: "All music is folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song." For whom do other parties create policies? Horses? Dogs? Pandas? Nightingales, perhaps, though that appears to be a UKIP policy, as Mr Mark Reckless has realized.
However, the most frightening term that has emerged recently and is being used by supporters and quasi-supporters of UKIP is the People's Will. UKIP, apparently, represents the People's Will, unlike the other parties. The argument that the other parties still get more votes than UKIP is irrelevant here because the People's Will is not to be measured in votes or support by individuals.
The history of the term is sinister. Its origin is the concept of the General Will, made popular by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and used to devastating effect by the Jacobins in the French Revolution until the General Will was turned against them. The most important and to tyrannical rulers most useful aspect of the General Will or the People's Will is that there is no appeal from it: there is nothing higher either in the state or in political morality. What the General Will or the People's Will (or, let us be clear, the Working Class) wants and requires is absolute and is to be imposed on all. It is the complete denial of democracy, which is based (however we define the details) on the concepts of individual rights, duties and liberties. Or, as far greater people than I said: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happines, all of which is denied by the concept of the General or the People's Will.
The most famous or, rather, infamous group that called itself the People's Will was a Russian terrorist organization whose greatest or, rather, worst achievement was the assassination of Alexander II on March 1, 1881 as he was about to sign a limited constitutional document, thus setting Russia's political development back by a number of decades. In fact, one could argue that the country never recovered fully from this set-back.
The expression works better in Russian as Народная воля (Narodnaya Volya) means both People's Will and People's Liberty. As it happens the group had no interest in anybody's liberty as their political, economic and social ideas were almost as oppressive as the ones imposed on that unhappy country by the Bolsheviks. Lenin was contemptuous of the idea of individual terrorism but that does not mean he disliked other aspects of the People's Will. Not least, he agreed with them and with such theoreticians as Pyotr Thachev about the need of a closely knit organization at the head of the revolutionary movement and, subsequently, the state that would interpret the People's Will (or the Will of the Working Class) with complete disregard for individual members of the People or the Working Class.
Could it be that UKIP political strategists do not know anything about this? Not anything?