Revolting! By Mick Hume ISBN 978-0-00-822082-2 published in 2017 by William Collins (HarperCollins) – 222 pages plus notes.
A small yellow book, I saw it in a local bookshop recently and, intrigued by the title, I bought it.
The title, evocative of “the peasants are ..”, sets the scene, and the subtitle “How the establishment are undermining democracy and what they are afraid of” puts us in the right ball-park.
Published in 2017 in the wake of the Brexit referendum and the “outrageous” election of “the Donald”, this is not only topical and bang up to date, but also sets these events in the context of the development of democratic government from its famous irruption in ancient Greece through its reincarnation during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the industrial revolution, to the present day.
I must say straight away that this book is no dry academic paper, full of worthy argument but either incomprehensible to normal people or boringly devoid of humour. I found it very readable with pithy laugh-out-loud comment lending illustrative hilarity to the argument. It is seemingly well-researched – there are 8 pages of references listed at the back for those who would like to check out his sources (I haven’t followed these up myself).
It starts by examining the reactions of “the elites” to the recent democratic upheavals. I found this part a little long for my liking, but interesting nonetheless. It could perhaps hardly be shortened as it deals with the reactions of the various elites in the USA, UK and the EU – no small undertaking. Perhaps the main lesson for us (after we have finished marveling at the sheer variety of filibustering) is that we should all take our very human capacity for self-delusion more seriously.
It follows up with a discussion of the breakdown of who voted for what/whom and their reasoning for so doing (also expressed in a manner not lacking in entertainment value) which may be considered the other side of the coin. The serious point being that the lack of understanding and communication between the elites and the voters was breathtaking. How could this happen in what was supposed to be a democracy? Easily, it would appear from the quotes attributed to leading members of the elite, who immediately demanded that the referendum result be ignored, apparently seeing no contradiction between this demand and the very foundation of democracy. Space prevents me from doing full justice to this part here, you will just have to read it for yourself.
The following section discusses what may or may not be meant by democracy (according to whom you speak), whether it may produce the “wrong” results, and whether we must indeed live with the results. This covers a great swathe of material and brought home to me a real sense of the political arguments that raged at the times of our own Civil War and the later the French revolution, as seen through the ideas of some of the political participants at the time. There is nothing like a historical narrative to put the events of the present day into perspective.
There is an overview of the development of democracy in the both the UK and the USA, and not surprisingly an analysis of the democratic credentials of the EU. Nevertheless the story that emerges is not just about the deficiencies of the EU but about the ways in which the authorities all across the spectrum of countries which are nominally democratic (including the UK and the USA) go about constructing ways by which to bypass and subvert democratic accountability. The EU is perhaps the most topical pinnacle of this tendency, but it by no means represents the sum total. Conversely the positives of democratic government are presented through the views of a French aristocrat who on visiting the newly minted American republic was moved to put his literary finger on one thing that their democracy had delivered that no other form of government could hope to match. The subsequent rise of the USA to become the greatest power that the world has ever seen would seem to support his views.
Crucially, the book explores how the elites’ attempts to undermine democracy is based upon their mistrust of “the people” and their consciously or unconsciously arrogant assumption that they themselves know best. The whole thing boils down to the question of whom we trust to take the decisions of government. Democracy asserts that the best way to avoid government by vested interests is to put trust in the people as a whole; but as in all life, there can be no guarantees – eternal vigilance is required.
For me this book pulled together a number of narratives (secret courts, trials without juries, postal votes, European Arrest Warrant, newspaper regulation, acceptance of slurs of “rascism” and “hate” regardless of evidence), that have struck me, as a citizen of a nominally democratic country, as a creeping tide of sustained assault upon our democratic freedoms. It is instructive that many of these steps have been taken by those who consider themselves to be “progressive” – wordplay being used once more to disguise intent and set us at ease.
Clearly (as I have set out elsewhere in UKIP Daily) there is serious work to do to reverse these regressions. This book puts all these issues into the context of the backlash of “the establishment” against democracy since the first stirrings of Magna Carta, and demonstrates how it is still alive and scheming in the present day.
I recommend Revolting! as both mandatory and very accessible reading for all UKIPpers. It brings our enemies and their stealth methods into focus and provides a wealth of interesting material.
For UKIP, the only political party that is untainted by “progressive” policies, I suggest that our overriding cause is nothing less than the defence, restoration, and advancement of democracy itself. All our policies must be tested against this yardstick.
East Hampshire Branch
(NB I have no financial interest in HarperCollins)