Monday, October 20, 2014

Odd concepts are emerging in British politics

Back in the days of the numerous People's Democracies and People's Republics (one or two of which are still with us) it would have seemed bizarre to envisage a time when similar concepts would be used by a political party that claims to be serious (i.e. not one of the numerous Communist, Stalinist, Trotskyite entities) but that is exactly what has been happening. Yes, indeed, I am once again referring to our friends in UKIP or as they sometimes decribe themselves, the People's Army. Presumably, even their political strategists (a.k.a. friends and drinking cronies of the Dear Leader, Nigel Farage) shied away from the People's Liberation Army. Even without that, the naming is not, in my opinion, a happy one.

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 Central Committee NEC.

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?


  1. Yup . I have got the message from this long winded article . You do not support UKIP . The other Parties are more acceptable to you are they ?

    1. When you acquire a name, come back. On second thoughts, if that is a sample of your thinking, don't bother.

  2. Helen,
    I'm afraid that the accusation alone is enough to have the People's Police breaking down your front door in the small hours when,as the calypso says, Nigel gets to Downing Street!

    1. I think I might live with that threat. ;)

      Only UKIP could think that an out-of-date idea like a calypso was cool and funky.