Perils of the “post-factual democracy”

Stolen from a frequent correspondent and acquaintance via the Financial Times, the term “post-factual democracy” sums up my horror at the referendum campaign.

Ultimately, leaving the EU is not a very good idea (the economic contagion is already apparent) but it is actually manageable. The British Isles will reform itself in some way; Europe will trade and share intelligence somehow; life will go on.

What is a truly terrible idea is voting based on total nonsense – far from a peculiarly British phenomenon. People who have expertise are not just ignored but overtly mocked. Instead of considering expert views before we vote, or even challenging them, we just call the experts themselves names if we don’t like what they say. Would we ignore brain surgeons and do our own brain surgery? So why would we ignore academic, military and financial experts and reckon we know it all ourselves?

There is also this weird view that somehow we should trust people who are actually of the elite but claim to be against it – in preference, for example, to people who are not actually of the elite! Boris and Nigel are not exactly binmen.

Thus the electorate in its wisdom openly chose a path which is clearly not in its own economic interests. How many more electorates are now to do similar?

The outcome of anti-intellectualism is always ignorance, which inevitably leads to fear, and on to hatred and then yes, on to violence. I know. I live in Northern Ireland.

It’s a global democratic disaster of which this crazy referendum was just a symptom.


5 thoughts on “Perils of the “post-factual democracy”

  1. The Listener says:

    It is not useful to moan about the result of actions of others, some borne of ignorance. The basic fact is that there was little connection between the goings on in Brussels and the electorate. MEPs were elected, and went off to Brussels and Strasbourg, never to be heard of again. No public meetings from time to time, no face to face on television. No frequent press releases reported meaningfully in the press about the nitty gritty of what went on about the deliberations of the Commissioners and the parliamentarians.

    No wonder that critical and intelligent public knowledge was lacking. Maybe the fault lay in our own homeland political ignorance of what goes on in Westminister or Stormont unless we are prepared to avidly follow the Parliament channel. On the ground there is a lack of reaching out by our politicians. We have all heard moans that we do not see them until prior to an election when a campaign is unleashed. Basic necessary step must be the introduction of basic political education in our schools as to the functionality of the political system, otherwise we shall never go anywhere fast in possibly the right direction.

  2. Gareth Griffiths says:

    I am sure you are feeling the same as me: quite depressed.

    I think that its important we don’t roll over, there is a lot to play for still.

    • Very well said and please keep in touch.

      The people have had their say. But it is not unreasonable to suggest that once the consequences are fully understood, they should have their say again. And not just in Scotland!

      Important to respect the result but also to mobilise to protect the cherished aspects of EU membership which are important to all of us.

  3. I think many MEPs were more guilty than others, but In some ways the public were guilty of ignoring what the system was designed for in the first place which was owning a degree of internationalism.

    Why should internationalism be left to government and diplomats, why must Europe or any other region be trapped in the prisons of nations? People were so afraid of some kind of forced assimilation they had forgotten what simple friendships are about, and why politics is arbitration not domination.

    Those who stared into the abyss when they looked at the EU, likewise those like myself who stare into the abyss when they look at Brexit, need to reflect the change they want to see in the world rather than reflect the abysses they want to see gone from the world.

    These abysses are all mostly psychological anyway.

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